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February 3, 2010

Cow Pies to Power America

The US Department of Agriculture and US dairy producers announced last December that they have reached an agreement to accelerate implementation of innovative manure to energy projects on American dairy farms.  Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, hails the agreement as a multifaceted victory, stating, “This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting dairy farmers.”

Under the agreement, the USDA and dairy producers will work together to achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2020.  Anaerobic digestor technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity.  It provides a new source of income for farmers, provides a source of renewable electricity, and reduces the amount of harmful methane gas released into the atmosphere.  According to Thomas P. Galleagher, CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc., “Sustainability goes hand in hand with our heritage of taking care of the land and natural resources while producing nutritious products that consumers want.”

Cow pies contain high levels of methane gas, a very strong greenhouse gas with 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Therefore, quantifying and reducing methane emissions from livestock farms is important for developing sustainable food production systems.

Link to manure facts

This post was prepared by William Mitchell College of Law student, Scott Johnson.  Mr. Johnson is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 3, 2010 in Current Affairs, Farming | Permalink


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