WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney (all D-Del.) announced $848,424 to help Delaware farmers convert manure to energy to generate income and improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funding, which will be distributed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, is one of 52 grants totaling $22.5 million awarded to the winning 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) proposals.
The CIG program was created to help agricultural and conservation businesses and organizations invest in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues. In addition to the manure-to-energy project, the 2011 CIG award supports proposals that address erosion prevention and other natural resource issues, demonstrate new ways to reduce odors from poultry and livestock operations, reclaim mining lands, develop ecosystem markets and expand solar energy use on farms.
"Delaware's agricultural community – from poultry to soybeans to corn – makes up an invaluable part of our state's economy and culture," said Sen. Carper. "This most recent grant from the Department of Agriculture helps Delaware's farmers and growers to continue to be good stewards of our land and water and supports their innovative efforts to generate energy from manure. This is an ingenious win-win-win that helps our agriculture community generate more energy and income while conserving our state's – and nation's – precious resources that make the agricultural sector thrive. In particular, this grant continues to support Delaware's leading nutrient management program, which is a first-rate model for agricultural communities across the United States."
"Finding innovative solutions for restoring the Chesapeake Bay are important as Delaware and other states in the watershed continue to work to protect this national treasure," Senator Coons said. "I want to congratulate the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on winning this grant, which will not only help farmers manage nutrients in the watershed, but will create a profitable and renewable energy source that will generate additional on-farm income."
"This innovative project will allow Delaware farmers to convert waste to energy while simultaneously enhancing the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay," said Rep. Carney. "By partnering our agriculture community with conservation efforts, we are strengthening the economy, improving the environment and enhancing water quality in a way that's good for business and good for Delawareans. I look forward to watching this program grow and develop in the coming years."