Vilsack Observes New Biofuel Production

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently visited Pennwood Farm in Berlin, Pennsylvania to get a firsthand glimpse of how farmers are turning manure into methane, allowing the farm to reduce its energy bills and sell excess electricity to its neighbors.

Since he took office, Secretary Vilsack has made funding and supporting biofuel programs a top concern at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vilsack and the USDA have invested heavily in ethanol production, biodiesel, solar and wind farms, and other forms of renewable energy.

The Pennwood Farm facility has started using an anaerobic digester, which breaks down and processes cow manure. The process creates methane, which can be used to create electricity, and leaves behind a solid and liquid byproduct, which can be used for fertilizer.

The farm received funding for its methane project from the USDA’s Rural Development program.

During his visit, Vilsack stated that the farm was indicative of a growing attitude in the agricultural community. “This operation is reflective of the attitude that a lot of farmers have about the need to continue to ask the questions how can we improve, how can we be more efficient, how can we take advantage of technology,” Vilsack said. “This is a great example of an operation that is multigenerational and supporting multiple families.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer