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January 15, 2014

State allots more funds for farm projects

Farmers may apply for state funding for projects to improve operations and cut costs through aid announced by the governor Tuesday.

Almost $21 million will be available in two programs, according to a media release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The funding will help dairy farmers convert farm waste into energy and develop business and environmental plans to reduce operating costs and increase profitability.

Cuomo said the funding stems from recommendations made at his Yogurt Summit in 2012, and in the recent State of the State address, he pledged to hold a second summit.

Starting Friday, $20 million will be available through NYSERDA to install anaerobic digester technology that produces renewable biogas used to produce electricity and heat from organic wastes, according to the governor’s release. Through this process, farmers often can eliminate a significant portion of the electricity they would otherwise purchase from the utility grid.

During the past 10 years, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority have awarded nearly $30 million toward anaerobic digestion projects and related technology, the release said. The result has been significant energy savings to New York-based businesses and cuts in the use of fossil fuel. Currently, this funding supports 20 operational digester projects.

The recently announced digester technology funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, the release said. Farms, food processing manufacturers or municipal wastewater sites would be eligible for up to $2 million per project.

Also, funding for the Dairy Acceleration Program will be increased by $850,000, which is in addition to the $1 million announced by the Cuomo in August, the release said. DAP is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and Department of Environmental Conservation.

Through DAP, the state has awarded funding for dozens of projects already for farms with an average herd of about 140 cows, the release said. Combined with some funding still available under the current program, this new funding will serve at least 100 more dairy farms across New York.

Business plans and updates to Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans for feeding operations are among projects eligible for DAP support, the release said.

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