To address the potential value of energy improvements to Washington's agricultural producers, a unique group of agencies and experts formed the Washington Farm Energy Program. This interdisciplinary team developed new investment-grade, open-source software and support to help producers evaluate energy-related costs.
Goals of the Washington Farm Energy Program
Position participating producers to take full advantage of grants and other incentive programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Renewable Energy for America Program with U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, and utility incentive programs.
Encourage producers to make the changes identified in the energy assessments to enhance their energy efficiency.
The Washington dairy industry is a key partner
Because dairy producers agreed to support development of the software, it is being deployed first in dairies. The South Yakima and Thurston County conservation districts are using the software in a pilot program that is providing participating dairies with site-specific energy assessment and management plans that:
Address on-farm energy burdens and opportunities;
Look not just at on-farm electricity use, but also at fuel, fertilizer and other energy-related farm costs; and
Give producers a prioritized set of options to better manage farm production.
The program could expand to other agricultural producers as funding is available
These include producers of dryland and irrigated crops, small farms and orchards, and possibly other sectors of the agricultural and food packing and processing industries.