RE Magazine

April 2012 

Tightening the Farm Belt 



CRN efficiency project helps co-op ag members control costs

CRN talks to co-ops and farmers about how to trim their energy costs while preserving productivity.

With operational costs climbing and commodity prices relatively stagnant, U.S. agricultural facilities today face an uphill battle keeping their books balanced.

To remain fiscally sound, farms are looking for any way they can to tighten their belts operationally without negatively affecting productivity. For those farms on co-op lines, having a member-focused power provider means having a key ally in this struggle.

“Being more efficient in what you do on your facility is what’s going to make or break you in the future,” cautions Tami Tollenaar from T-Bar M Dairy Ranch in Oklahoma.

Staff members from NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network (CRN) recently traveled to Oklahoma to talk to co-ops, farmers, and university officials there about technological advances that are helping power-hungry farms keep their energy use in check. (See video at right.)

Ron Kensinger, head of the Animal Science Department at Oklahoma State University, notes that agricultural consumers, particularly livestock facilities, have unique needs, depending on electricity not only for production but for critical systems like ventilation and temperature control to keep their animals alive and well.  He adds that dairy, swine, and poultry industries on co-op lines have been particularly successful implementing technologies aimed at improving operational efficiency.

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