Organic Valley's Farmer Renewables & Energy Program Helps Farmers Become More Energy Efficient and Independent
Today, Organic Valley, the nation's largest and oldest cooperative of organic family farmers, announced that through their Farmer Renewables & Energy Program (FREP), three of their farmer-owners have received $120,171 in federal and state grants for on-farm renewable energy projects. These grants are a critical part of Organic Valley's ongoing effort to develop and nurture on-farm sustainability through renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for its member farmers.
In 2008, Organic Valley launched the Farmer Renewables & Energy Program (FREP) to respond to farmers' concerns over the rising costs of energy and support their interest in sustainable energy alternatives. Organic Valley's FREP program aims to help their farmer-owners become more energy efficient and independent through the use of technologies such as bio-diesel, wind, solar, energy-efficient farm equipment and biomass conversion.
2008-2009 state and federal grants were awarded to Mark Shepard, Organic Valley produce farmer of Viola, Wis., and Tyler Webb, Organic Valley dairy farmer of Franklin County, Vt. Rick Adamski, Organic Valley dairy farmer of Shawano County, Wis., received an extension for his 2007-2008 federal grant, in addition to a state grant.
The USDA extended its 2007-2008 9006 grant of $37,711 and Wisconsin awarded a Focus on Energy grant of $30,460 to Rick Adamski of Shawano County, Wis., a pioneer in sustainable agriculture efforts and Organic Valley FREP Committee member. The Adamskis are committed to their roles as stewards of the land, and they have overcome many hurdles to pursue sustainable energy use and install a 35 kilowatt wind turbine on their farm. Based on the farm site analysis and wind speed estimations from historical data, the turbine will generate about 60 thousand kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which roughly equals 150 percent of the total annual electricity usage for the farm.
"Generating electricity and fuels that don't have a detrimental impact on the environment—that's exciting," said Adamski. "We are grateful that Organic Valley shares our vision for a renewable and sustainable future and helped us access this grant to make our wind turbine possible."
"We're excited about our Farmer Renewables & Energy Program and helping our members consider grants for their on-farm renewable energy projects," said George Siemon, founding farmer and chief executive officer of Organic Valley. "Our farmer-owners have a great interest in becoming more energy efficient because it's the right thing to do for the health of the earth and the long-term sustainability for our member farms."
Organic from the start, Mark Shepard's first goal for his farm outside of Viola, Wis., has been sustainability through permaculture farming, creating an ecological model that produces carbohydrates, proteins and oil on a large scale with no fossil fuel inputs. The USDA awarded a 9006 grant of more than $17,000 to Shepard, which will cover 25 percent of the total cost for his wind project.
Tyler Webb and his fiancé Melanie, young farmers from Franklin County, Vt., also received a USDA 9006 grant for $15,000 and a Vermont Solar and Small Wind Program grant of $20,000 for their wind turbine. The turbine will offset about 70 percent of their power needs, and will be one element of the energy efficiency improvements they make on their farm. A core foundation of Webb’s farming system is grass and grazing, which fulfills his mission to share food that is healthy for the environment, mind, body and soul.
Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,322 farmers in 34 states and one Canadian province, and achieved $432.5 million in 2007 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie Family of Farms label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.com and the cooperative's farmer website, www.farmers.coop.