Food and Energy from the Ground Up: Efficiency's Role in Sustainable Agriculture
Rich Hackner, Wisconsin Focus on Energy and GDS Associates
Mike Morris, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
In the recent national dialogue about biofuels and other renewable energy opportunities for agriculture, efficiency has been a strangely neglected topic. The usual vision or hope is that agricultural lands will produce enough fuel and electricity to meet future energy demands that continue to expand rapidly.
This conference explored an alternative vision, where increased energy production by agriculture is accompanied by equally significant improvements in energy efficiency throughout our economy. Making these improvements will require rethinking and redesigning many aspects of our interrelated food and energy systems.
In recent years, ACEEE has been active in reinvigorating interest in energy issues in agriculture. We supported the Senate Agriculture Committee in their crafting the energy title (Title IX) of the 2002 Farm Bill, helping to insure that energy efficiency was included. Since the bill's passage, we have worked to provide information on energy efficiency opportunities in the agricultural sector and to identify successful program strategies, becoming a leading source of information the government and the energy efficiency community on energy efficiency in agriculture through our Web site, reports and presentations.
In order to stimulate a dialogue about the role of energy efficiency in agriculture, ACEEE organized the first Forum on Energy Efficiency in Agriculture in November of 2005 in Des Moines, Iowa. In the second "Ag Forum," we continued to plan and to build a more energy-efficient agriculture and food system. The conference included practical information for agricultural producers, food processors, energy providers, consumers, and others who are adapting to new energy realities.