WHEREAS, increased energy costs continue placing greater financial burdens on all of New Jersey’s agricultural sectors, making traditional fossil fuels less attractive for on-farm use; and
WHEREAS, bio-gas facilities have the potential to remove large amounts of food waste and other refuse from the state’s overall waste inventory, when mixed with manure in the production of bio-gas, lessening the state’s reliance on landfills and thereby enhancing the environment and reducing municipal waste disposal costs; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey farmers have embraced becoming part of the biofuels and alternative energy production market, including but not limited to the growing of grasses and other cellulosic materials to be turned into pellets for use in woodstoves or other heat and power devices; and
WHEREAS, the efforts of farmers to both use and produce alternative energy are consistent with the goals of the State Energy Master Plan to have 20 percent of New Jersey’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020, and with elements of the “Energy as Industry” positions of the new Administration; and
WHEREAS, we strongly support all farmers having the ability to utilize solar, wind and other renewable energy to meet the energy needs of their agricultural operations as cost-effectively as possible, whether their farms are preserved or not; and
WHEREAS, local production of biodiesel fuels would improve air quality by lessening the amount of petroleum diesel being used, as well as providing New Jersey soybean farmers with an enhanced market for their crop.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 95th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in East Brunswick, New Jersey, on February 9, 2010, support the continued development of renewable energy sources in New Jersey and support the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s comprehensive “green energy” strategy as both producers and consumers. This strategy can be found on the Department’s web site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/news/hottopics/topics060222.html, and which will best position New Jersey’s agricultural community to benefit from the pursuit and advocacy of renewable energy.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the efforts of the Department with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and/or any other agencies, to increase the participation of farmers in the growing of cellulosic crops that can be used in a variety of alternative-energy processes.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support efforts to establish an electricity-generating anaerobic digester to be fueled in part by manure from New Jersey dairy or livestock operations, as it addresses the dual needs of creating alternative energy while removing manure from the waste inventory.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly urge the Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation that would put into effect the 2-percent/5-percent biodiesel mandate called for in the State’s Energy Master Plan, which would require that all space-heating diesel fuel sold in the state would include 2 percent biodiesel beginning in 2015, and increasing that amount to 5 percent by 2020, resulting in 16.8 million gallons of biodiesel being blended with heating oil by 2020.
Fuel and energy costs continue to place financial burdens on all agricultural sectors, diminishing the positive effects of improving prices paid to farmers during good times and further stressing their viability in leaner times. From both the producer and consumer standpoints, New Jersey’s agricultural community would benefit from a concerted effort to pursue and advocate the use of renewable “green energy,” such as ethanol, biodiesel, wind power, solar power, bio-gas and biomass.
Solar energy offers one of the best and cleanest alternative sources of energy for agriculture, industry, and residential dwellings, and there is a demand for more alternative energy produced on preserved or non-preserved agricultural lands, which offers New Jersey farmers a potential source of income. Recent legislative action geared toward enhancing the ability of preserved farms to tap into this energy source has been appreciated by the farm community.
But solar is not the only alternative energy gaining increasing traction among agricultural operators. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is taking a leadership role in New Jersey in working with farmers to produce cellulosic materials such as grasses for use in biofuels and alternative energy generation and has initiated efforts with the Department to expand these efforts among New Jersey farmers.
Biodiesel and ethanol, although challenged by claims that they utilize cropland formerly dedicated to much-needed food crops, continue to have supporters, including on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Ethanol plants currently under development in New Jersey are projected to produce anywhere from 3 to 40 million gallons of ethanol, and this process also would produce distillers’ grains for use as livestock feed and liquid carbon dioxide, which in part could be used in flash freezing operations for Jersey-grown fruits and vegetables.
The Department has worked since June 2006 in a cooperative effort with the Board of Public Utilities, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of State, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Commission on Science and Technology, Rutgers University and the Governor’s Office of Economic Growth to create the most conducive environment for biofuels and bioenergy projects to thrive in New Jersey. This “Biofuels/Bioenergy Action Group” has identified numerous viable alternative energy proposals from entities interested in locating in New Jersey or already doing business here, and has addressed overarching issues such as environmental permitting hurdles, inventorying biomass available for energy, improper application of environmental standards to biofuels-dispensing operations and classification of biofuels/bioenergy feedstocks in order to determine their value in the Renewable Energy Credit (REC) marketplace.