Building on our work over the past four years to reinvigorate interest in energy issues in agriculture, we are pleased to announce the ACEEE Forum on Energy Efficiency in Agriculture. This first-ever "Ag Forum" will be held November 14 - 16, 2005 in Des Moines, Iowa at the Embassy Suites Hotel. The conference will highlight energy efficiency technologies, policies, and actions that can contribute to increased viability and sustainability of farms, ranches, and the rural business community.
The forum's theme is "Increasing Energy Efficiency in the Agriculture Sector: Farms, Ranches, and Rural Small Businesses" and will offer an agenda spanning the many energy issues found in rural America. The "Ag Forum" will offer general panels and interactive session topics such as: agricultural data needs, gaps, and problems; non-energy benefits of energy efficiency; lessons learned from past and present agricultural energy efficiency programs; how to increase the presence of energy-efficient technologies on small farms, ranches, and rural small businesses; and how to stimulate additional research on technologies, products, social aspects, and policies required to achieve energy efficiency. The forum is likely to foster early discussions about agriculture and energy ideas for the 2007 Farm Bill.
ACEEE has also just published three new research reports on energy use in agriculture. They cover how major energy sources are used on farms, estimate the potential savings available from energy efficiency, and review a total of 52 energy efficiency programs nationwide that are implementing savings in the agricultural sector.
All are accessible for free download:
The first report, On-Farm Energy Use Characterizations, highlights significant regional variation in both the mix of farm-type and in the use of energy found from state to state. The report points out many gaps in our knowledge of energy use in the agricultural sector, despite the continuing efforts of USDA's data collection. Detailed profiles were compiled at the national level as well as for California, Florida, Kansas, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Analysis in the second report, Potential Energy Efficiency Savings in the Agriculture Sector, indicates that the energy savings potential is more than 10% of total energy expenses nationwide and 35% of savings based on energy end-use that can be characterized despite gaps in knowledge about agricultural energy use. Energy represents a greater fraction of operating expenses for the agricultural sector than all but the most energy-intensive manufacturing industries.
The 52 programs profiled in the last report, Energy Efficiency Programs in Agriculture: Design, Success, and Lessons Learned, demonstrate that models exist for effective energy efficiency programs targeted at farmers and ranchers. While the program approaches vary, with some focusing on particular applications such as irrigation and others focusing on a particular sub-sector such as dairy, the authors found that tailoring the program to meet the unique needs of the local, target audience and working through existing channels is the key to success.
Read the press release about all three reports and the "Ag Forum."