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Farming operations use an extraordinary amount of energy. According to a 2013 USDA report entitled "Agriculture's Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products", energy requirements can be as much as 34 percent of a farm's total costs. Helping Michigan farmers reduce their energy expenses is the focus of a series of one-day workshops being held around the state. Farmers who have attended past meetings have:

• Reduced overall farm energy expenses.

• Leveraged utility company rebates and Federal grants and low interest loans to implement energy conservation practices recommended by an audit.

• Applied for and received renewable energy project funding.

Michigan farmers have enjoyed great success in getting USDA grant dollars. The spike in approved renewable energy and energy efficiency projects began in 2009 when USDA Rural Development required Tier II energy audits to be completed by auditors who were certified by the MSU energy auditor training program. MSU studies have shown that, on average, agricultural operations realize a 40 percent reduction in energy expenses over a 3.8-year payback period when recommended energy conservation practices are implemented.

At each workshop, attendees will hear from energy specialists from Michigan State University Extension on how to develop an energy use strategy.

Utility and electric cooperative representatives will discuss rebate options and opportunities.

A panel discussion will feature farmers talking about their experience in implementing energy conservation practices. Attendees will also receive practical instruction from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services and Rural Development personnel on applying for grant dollars for energy conservation practices. Please join us at the location nearest your farm!

•Wednesday, January 13: Smith Hall, 800 Sickles St, St. Johns, MI 48879

•Thursday, January 14: DTE Energy North Area Energy Center, 4100 Doerr Road, Cass City, MI 48726

•Tuesday, January 19: Olive Township Hall, 6480 136th Avenue, Holland, MI 49424

•Wednesday, January 20: Hillsdale County Extension Office, 20 Care Drive, Suite B, Hillsdale, MI 49242

•Friday, January 29: Kalamazoo Valley Community College, 6767 West O Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

All workshops, except the January 29 workshops, will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include lunch. There is a $15 registration fee to attend a workshop. The same program will be offered at each meeting site.

Registration information and the agenda can be found by going to http://events.anr.msu.edu/2016_AgEnConsWorkshop/. The January 29 program is part of 2016 Ag Action Day and registration is being handled separately. Look for Ag Action Day registration information on the MSU Extension website.

If you have questions about any of the workshops, contact Charles Gould, Michigan State University Extension Educator, at 616/994-4547 or gouldm@msu.edu.

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