Agricultural Energy Efficiency Initiative Helps Family Farms Stay In Business
31 Farms Implement Cost Saving Energy Efficiency Upgrades
Richmond, VA – Family owned farms are always looking for ways to increase profitability and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) is happy to help. In 2010 VCE launched a pilot known as the On-Farm Energy Efficiency Project, supported by a $146,751 AgriBusiness grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, to evaluate the potential for cost savings related to energy use on Virginia farms. Energy costs for Virginia farms have consistently risen over the years and reducing those costs could significantly help farms remain profitable. When the pilot project concluded in 2012 the results were clear: Over $1 million in potential energy savings was identified at 58 farms should they complete an energy audit and install the recommended upgrades.
Following the successful pilot the Agricultural Energy Efficiency Initiative was launched in 2014 with the help of a $373,500 AgriBusiness grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission to make these savings a reality. The project pays for an energy audit of their facilities and equipment and then provides them with technology guidance, best practices and access to experts as well as funding opportunities to help them make the recommended upgrades.
Martha Walker, Virginia Cooperative Extension Community Viability Extension Specialist said, “Our Southside and Southwest Virginia Cooperative Extension team works directly with the farmers enrolled in this energy efficiency program to connect each farm to the right energy auditor, complete the audit process, and provide the cost share for energy retrofits. We know that when farms expend hard-earned dollars on inefficient equipment and processes, farm profitability is in jeopardy. To support this effort, Extension has built strong partnerships with all the state and federal agencies as well as Electric Cooperatives and funders that invested in farm energy.”
Over the course of the project 64 farms have completed an energy audit and 31 of those have gone on to implement recommended cost saving energy retrofits with the help of $214,000 in Tobacco Commission grant funds. This project aligns perfectly with the Tobacco Commission’s goal of developing a diverse economy in Southern and Southwest Virginia by supporting local agriculture and keeping jobs in the region.
Tobacco Commission Chairman, Delegate Terry Kilgore added, “This project is a good example of the positive impact the Tobacco Commission is having on our region. Helping farms remain profitable and keeping jobs in our area are important to the long term success of Southern and Southwest Virginia.”
Contact: Jordan Butler
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