The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced an initiative to help California agricultural producers transition to more energy efficient operations.

The initiative will make funding available for individual on-farm energy audits designed to save money and energy when fully implemented.

“Helping California’s farmers and ranchers reduce energy use helps everyone’s bottom line,” said Ed Burton, NRCS state conservationist for California. “More efficient energy use will help our agricultural producers, and Californians, become more energy independent.”

California is one of 29 states receiving funding for on-farm energy audits in fiscal year 2010 through the 2008 farm bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Up to $225,000 is available in California to assist up to 150 farmers and ranchers with audits.

The energy audits will be individually tailored to assess each farm’s primary energy uses including milk cooling, irrigation pumping, heating, and cooling of livestock production facilities, manure collection and transfer, grain drying, and other similar on-farm activities.

NRCS California will pay for the initial audits and the associated Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP). The AgEMP provides producers a roadmap for the future implementation of energy-efficient practices.