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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jackson Co. farm gets USDA funds for biodigester project

The USDA announced $1.8 million in a grant and loan for an electricity-generating manure digester at Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County:

MERRILL, Wis., October 26, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is funding anaerobic digester projects in eight states to encourage renewable energy production, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager during a trip to Wisconsin.

"Through the efforts of the Obama Administration, the Rural Energy for America Program has helped rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers across the nation," Vilsack said. "Since its creation this program has assisted almost 9,600 small businesses, farmers and ranchers and created or saved an estimated 15,000 jobs. It also provides producers with new opportunities to diversify revenue and make American agriculture and rural small business more competitive."

Funding for the biodigesters is provided through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and has created or saved an estimated 13.4 billion kWh of electricity and reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the biodigesters announced today will be constructed on Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County, Wis. It is expected to produce 3.3 million kW hours of renewable energy each year, enough to power 400 average Wisconsin homes per year. Digesters will also be constructed in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Oregon, Ohio, and Vermont.

Today's announcement is in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary Vilsack in December, 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020.

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