Tuesday, January 14, 2014

State Makes $20 Million Available for Dairy Programs

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

Nearly $21 million is being made available to farmers in New York state to help them produce renewable energy and improve their business operations.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday the money will help dairy farmers convert farm waste to energy and develop individualized business and environmental plans to reduce operating costs and increase profitability. 

The funding for these efforts stem from recommendations made at Cuomo’s Yogurt Summit in 2012 to ensure the industry continues to grow and create jobs in New York state. 

In his 2014 State of the State Address, Cuomo pledged a second Yogurt Summit to identify additional economic growth opportunities within this growing sector of the economy. 

“The state is committed to creating new economic opportunities for our dairy farmers, who have helped make New York the Yogurt Capital of the nation,” Cuomo said. “With this funding, we are providing significant financial assistance to farmers so they can cut their energy costs, increase efficiencies in their operations, and develop plans to expand their businesses and contribute to cleaner communities."

Here is what is planned:

Waste-to-Energy Anaerobic Digesters

Starting Jan. 17 (Friday), $20 million will be available through NYSERDA to install anaerobic digester technology that produces renewable biogas used to produce electricity and heat from organic wastes. 

Farms, food processing manufacturers or municipal wastewater sites would be eligible for up to $2 million per project.

Biogas-to-power technology has several steps. Dairy manure and other organic wastes are pumped into digestion tanks where bacteria break down the waste, creating a methane-rich gas called biogas and a nutrient-rich effluent that can be applied to crops as fertilizer. The biogas is burned in engines to produce electricity and heat. 

Through this process, farmers can often eliminate a significant portion of the electricity they would otherwise purchase from the utility grid, and periodically export surplus electricity onto the electrical grid in exchange for credits. Furthermore, farmers can realize operational savings in other areas as well.

During the past 10 years, NYSERDA and the New York Power Authority have awarded nearly $30 million toward anaerobic digestion projects and related technology, resulting in significant energy savings to New York-based businesses while reducing the use of fossil fuel. 

Currently, this funding supports 20 operational digester projects. The digester technology funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible projects. 

Dairy Acceleration Program

Funding for the Dairy Acceleration Program (DAP) will be increased by $850,000, which is in addition to the $1 million announced by the governor this past August. 

DAP is jointly funded by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and DEC. DAP is resonating very positively with dairy farmers across the state, most with herds of fewer than 300 cows. 

Combined with some funding still available under the current program, this new funding will serve at least 100 more dairy farms across New York. 

Payments under DAP may include: up to $5,000 per farm to write a business plan or develop a combination of a business and facility growth plan; and up to $4,500 to update an existing Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) or $6,000 to develop a new one. 

Additional funds also will be available to design farm practices described in CNMPs. CNMPs are a conservation system for animal feeding operations designed to address soil erosion and water quality concerns. 

The CNMP encompasses the storage and handling of manure as well as using and applying manure nutrients on farm land. Through DAP, the state awarded dozens of projects already for farms with an average herd of about 140 cows. 

Business planning may include financial analysis, farmstead development planning, facility planning and capital investment planning for increased milk production per cow. Environmental planning includes CNMP development and updates. Farms without an existing CNMP can hire a certified Nutrient Management planner to develop a new CNMP.

To be eligible for DAP, a dairy cattle farm must have complete financial records. Preference will be given to farms with fewer than 300 cows. DAP funding will cover up to 80 percent of a project’s cost.

To apply for DAP, visit http://ansci.cornell.edu/prodairy/dairy_acceleration/.

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