Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced two programs that will help dairy farmers in New York expand their businesses, increase profitability and reduce their energy costs. These initiatives were the result of recommendations advanced at Governor Cuomos Yogurt Summit, which convened last summer to hear ideas from industry leaders, farmers and other stakeholders to ensure that the yogurt industry continues to grow and create jobs in New York.
Last summer, we heard from stakeholders on how the State can help the dairy industry and yogurt producers grow and create jobs in New York, Governor Cuomo said. As a result of our ongoing dialogue, the State is providing assistance to the industry through these two programs, which will help dairy farmers lower their energy costs and provide opportunities to help expand their production and efficiency. We want to make sure that the dairy and yogurt business stays and flourishes in New York.
Anaerobic Digester Biogas-to-Electricity Program (ADG)
The Governor announced that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will double the maximum incentive amount from $1 million to up to $2 million per installation for farmers to install equipment on their farms that turns organic waste produced by cows into electricity.
At the Yogurt Summit, the State committed to working with the dairy and yogurt industries to lower energy costs by increasing and incentivizing the construction and use of anaerobic digesters which turn waste produced on the farm into energy that can be used by the farmers. This allows farmers to more easily manage the large amount of waste produced by cows and to also save money on energy costs by turning that waste into a renewable source of energy.
Specifically, the Anaerobic Digester Biogas to Electricity (ADG) program provides incentives for electricity production systems installed at farms and other businesses that treat organic waste. Biogas-to-power technology has several steps, which include pumping dairy manure and other organic wastes into digestion tanks where bacteria break down the waste, creating a methane-based biogas. The gas is burned in engines to produce electricity. By producing electricity onsite, the digesters help offset a farms electricity purchases from their utility and reduce their energy costs.
The increased amount in incentive awards to up to $2 million for anaerobic digesters was approved by the Public Service Commission at its monthly meeting earlier this month and is funded through the Renewable Portfolio Standard. To date, the ADG program has supported the development of 18 projects now in operation, and an additional 17 projects in the design stage have applied for incentives. The increased cap will make more proposed anaerobic digester projects viable and spur demand for this important resource.
Garry Brown, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, which authorized the incentive increase, said, Given current economic conditions and the expiration of federal grant programs, it makes sense to allow NYSERDA to adjust State program incentives, within its defined budget, to maintain momentum in the deployment of renewable energy projects.
Francis J. Murray, Jr., president and chief executive officer of NYSERDA, said, We thank the Public Service Commission (PSC) for its decision approving our request to increase the investment cap for anaerobic digester projects. NYSERDA is committed to providing farmers and other businesses with the means to reduce their energy consumption and costs. Governor Cuomo has been very clear in both his commitment to invest in clean energy technologies and to assist dairy farms in remaining economically viable. The decision by the PSC advances both these goals.
Dairy Acceleration Program (DAP)
Governor Cuomo also announced $450,000 for a Dairy Acceleration Program (DAP) that will provide grants and coordinate funding and technical programs to help farmers interested in expanding their operations or increasing their efficiency.
Modern milk production requires expertise from a number of disciplines, ranging from agronomics, environmental science, animal husbandry, crop science, human resource management, and financial and strategic planning. Through the program, farmers will be able to tap into the expertise of the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) network and other agricultural programs to facilitate and grow their business and in turn increase production on their farms.
DAP will build upon Governor Cuomos one stop shop approach, by providing a central point of access to technical programs for those dairies looking to expand or improve productivity. CCE Regional Dairy Specialists will identify opportunities for assistance for the farm via programs, such as the AEM program, FarmNet and Pro-Dairy, and help to coordinate the delivery of these on-farm technical support programs.
DAP will also provide grants of up to $5,000 per dairy farm for:
- Financial analysis,
- Strategic planning for growth,
- Executing business plans to expand, or
- Other operational needs of the farm, such as adoption of Best Management Practices, new techniques/technologies for growth or engineering and design for expansion.
State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, Governor Cuomo knows the importance of dairy farmers to the fabric of the Empire States economy. This important funding will help our dairy farmers grow, increase their production and reduce the costs of their operations.
Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau, said, Governor Cuomo continues to work with dairy farmers to grow responsibly. New York farms have long partnered with the state to be national leaders when it comes to environmental stewardship, and the added incentives to build new anaerobic digesters as well as DAP funding to help with sensible planning will further that important effort. New York Farm Bureau appreciates the Governor's support to allow family dairy farms to supply the prosperous yogurt boom to the benefit of New York's economy and natural resources.