Arizona farmers, ranchers, dairies, nursery growers, and other agricultural producers can apply for financial assistance to get an energy audit of their operation.

The Arizona office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funds to award approximately 30 applications which will pay approximately 75 percent to 90 percent of the costs of an energy audit.

The audit is the short-term goal of the financial help with a longer term goal of developing an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP).

The deadline to apply for fiscal year 2010 funding is June 18.

“These energy audits are very specific to each agriculture operation,” said David McKay, NRCS Arizona state conservationist. “This can help the agriculture community improve air quality, use less water, and save energy for Arizona in many ways,” McKay said.

An AgEMP is an analysis of current farm infrastructure and management with recommendations to reduce energy consumption on the farm. This includes purchased fuels, electricity, and renewable energy sources used to perform farm activities.

A plan can be developed for each farm enterprise, including a livestock production system, a field crop system, and specialized non-livestock operations including greenhouses and cold storage.

This provides the farmer with cost effective ways to reduce operating costs while saving energy.

The advantages of energy conservation include reducing air pollutants, global greenhouse gas emissions, dependence on petroleum-based products, and slowing the escalation of energy costs due to lower demand.

Arizona is one of 29 states offering the energy audit assistance. NRCS is administering the program.

Arizona agricultural producers can learn more and apply by visiting one of the 24 local NRCS field offices in the state or by calling (602) 280-8842.