COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 15, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced an agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate adoption of innovative manure to energy projects on American dairy farms. The agreement represents a dynamic public/private partnership and is another demonstration of the Obama Administration's commitment to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases.
"This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting dairy farmers," said Vilsack. "Use of manure to electricity technology is a win for everyone because it provides an untapped source of income for famers, provides a source of renewable electricity, reduces our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, and provides a wealth of additional environmental benefits."
With this Memorandum of Understanding, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy - part of the Dairy Management Inc. - the USDA and U.S. dairy producers will work together to reach a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. USDA will do so by undertaking research initiatives, allowing implementation flexibility, and enhancing marketing efforts of anaerobic digesters to dairy producers.
Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity. The technology utilizes generators that are fueled by methane captured from the animal manure. Currently, only about 2 percent of U.S. dairies that are candidates for a profitable digester are utilizing the technology. Dairy operations with anaerobic digesters routinely generate enough electricity to power 200 homes.
Through the agreement, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will increase the number of anaerobic digesters supported by USDA programs. Beyond promoting the digesters, the agreement will encourage research, and development of new technologies to help dairies reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Thomas P. Galleagher, CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc., added, "This memorandum came about because of the commitment of U.S. dairy farmers and the dairy industry to a sustainable future that includes both environmental and economic viability," said Gallagher. "Sustainability goes hand in hand with our heritage of taking care of the land and natural resources while producing nutritious products that consumers want."
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