WASHINGTON – A new initiative designed to help agricultural producers transition to more energy-efficient operations was announced April 22 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The initiative will make funding available for individual on-farm energy audits designed to save both money and energy when fully implemented.

"Reducing energy use on America's farms and ranches will not only help our agricultural producers become more profitable, but also help the United States become more energy independent," Mr. Vilsack said. "Through this initiative, producers will be able to receive individual on-farm energy audit evaluations and assistance with implementation of energy conservation and efficiency measures."

Mr. Vilsack explained approximately 1,000 on-farm energy audit evaluations in 29 states will be funded by $2 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (E.Q.I.P.) in fiscal year 2010. The energy audits will be individually tailored to ensure coverage of each farm's primary energy uses, such as milk cooling, irrigation pumping, heating and cooling of livestock production facilities, manure collection and transfer, grain drying and similar common on-farm activities.

Participating states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

According to the U.S.D.A., implementation will occur in stages beginning with the short-term immediate goal of providing the on-farm energy audits to help identify how the operations can become more energy efficient. Longer term goals will involve development of agricultural energy management plans for cost effective implementation of the recommendations provided in their on-farm energy audits.

More information about agricultural energy management plans is available at: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/cap.html.