Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today renewed a historic agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. The pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.
“Through this renewed commitment, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will continue research that helps dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations,” Vilsack said. “This vital research also will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”
The Secretary signed the agreement this afternoon at the White House and was joined by representatives of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management, including Thomas P. Gallagher, CEO of the center. One objective of the MOU is to increase the construction of anaerobic digesters and explore innovative ways to use products previously considered waste streams from dairy production, processing and handling.
USDA support for agricultural and waste-to-energy research has played a key role in the agreement’s success to date. Since signing the MOU, USDA has made nearly 180 awards that helped finance the development, construction, and biogas production of anaerobic digester systems with Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Value Added Producer Grants, amongst others. These systems capture methane and produce renewable energy for on-farm use and sale onto the electric grid. Additionally, during this period, USDA awarded approximately 140 REAP loans and grants to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems at their operations.
The Secretary was joined on a conference call to make the announcement by The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy CEO Tom Gallagher and Doug Young, a farmer from NY who has benefited from this MOU.
Listen to that call here: USDA/Dairy MOU press call