On Aug. 28, Congressman Roy Blunt announced that 13 southwest Missouri poultry producers will receive a total of $445,000 in grants through a USDA program.
The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Grant program will assist local producers in developing and using renewable energy systems that could save more the 325,000 gallons of propane per year.
"Once we get the system in, it should save around 50 percent on our propane bill," said Marty Hall, of Washburn, who will receive a $24,035 grant for a wood pellet system. "The system will eventually pay for itself."
Hall's grant monies will assist in construction and installation costs required to build a facility for a wood pellet burning stove and install duct work to his three chicken houses. The project will cost a total of $90,000.
"We will also need to install feed bins outside the chicken houses that will feed the pellets automatically," said Hall. "We will need to complete the entire project before we will be reimbursed with the grant money."
Hall plans to begin the energy efficiency project in January or February of 2009, which will allow him to begin using the new heating system next spring.
"I wanted to get it in before winter but that isn't going to be possible," said Hall. "It will be nice anyway. Anytime you can save on propane, whether it is summer or winter, is a good thing."
The grant program will also distribute monies to six Monett-based producers, two producers in Aurora and four other producers who live in Anderson, Wentworth, Verona and Sarcoxie.
"Southwest Missouri farmers are among the most innovative small business owners, always looking for new ways to reduce their costs and increase production," said Blunt. "We saw during the annual agriculture tour that poultry producers are experimenting with burning low quality corn, wood and wood chips to reduce their soaring propane costs.
"These innovations are helping reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy while at the same time having a positive impact on our environment, as well," said Blunt. "These grants from the USDA will further that research and benefit southwest Missourians in the process."
In addition to wood pellet systems, southwest Missouri poultry producers will be installing energy efficient straw, hay, corn and biomass furnaces at area farms.