In spring 2019, Minnesota Farmers Union partnered with GDS Associates to prepare the Minnesota Agriculture Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Potential Study. GDS consulted energy experts and farmers to help all farmers better understand where and how to reduce energy use and costs on their farms. The study found that energy costs account for only 5 percent of farm expenses, but it is also one of the few costs that farmers have some control over. This is important to note during this time of prolonged low farm income.
The study considered direct on-farm energy use, which included electricity, liquid propane and natural gas. It concluded that Minnesota farmers spend around $261 million per year on these energy costs and that the approximate potential energy savings are $39 million per year, or 15 percent. The best way to determine potential energy savings or how to be more efficient is by getting an on-farm energy audit. This audit will help you inventory how much energy you are using, how to improve efficiency and get cost savings through upgrades and improvements, as well as looking at renewable energy additions as an option.
The On-farm Energy Initiative through NRCS-EQIP has financial assistance for farmers looking to complete an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP) which is done by NRCS-certified Technical Services Providers. More information can be found at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/eqip/?cid=stelprdb1046252. Knowing where and how you use energy is the first step in understanding where you can save energy. We suggest you consider having an energy audit completed to find opportunities to save money and energy.
The one-pager and full study are available here electronically. Please contact MFU Programming Director Michelle Medina at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 288-4096 if you have any questions or are looking for more information.