Published 4:08 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced an initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) designed to help agricultural producers transition to more energy-efficient operations. While this is a continuous signup, the first application deadline for 2011 funding is February18.

This agricultural energy conservation and efficiency initiative is available for all farming operations but is particularly suited to farms with older equipment, buildings and machinery. Producers receive individual on-farm energy evaluations that are tailored to ensure coverage of each farm's primary energy uses such as milk cooling, heating and cooling of livestock production facilities, grain drying, and similar on-farm activities. Simple changes in confined animal operations can help farmers achieve significant energy and cost savings.

The NRCS in Virginia will offer a payment for the development of an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP). The producer will hire a Technical Service Provider, certified to complete an AgEMP, and receive direct payment through EQIP once it is completed.

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“Reducing energy use on Virginia farms will not only help our agricultural producers become more profitable but also help America become more energy independent,” said Jack Bricker, State Conservationist.

Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the farm bill eligibility requirements. Please contact your local USDA Service Center to begin this process. The NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or online at For information about agricultural energy management plans visit:

USDA Rural Development offers a complementary program of loans and grants for implementing energy efficiency improvements. To speak with a USDA Rural Development representative for Virginia, contact Laurette Tucker, Rural Business Specialist, at (804) 387-2594 or