This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
By Joe Reilly, Associate Administrator, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
I grew up on a small farm near Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, where my family – like many others across the United States – helped provide the food and fiber to build and sustain America. Visiting these types of farm communities today there is a distinctive change on the rural horizon from when I was a child – the presence of wind turbines, solar panels, ethanol plants, and other bioenergy tools and resources.
The fact is agriculture in the United States is changing. The industry is no longer looked upon just to provide food and fiber to America. Agriculture is now fueling America’s future.
There is growing national interest in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources and the agriculture industry is being tapped to provide the answers. With this increasing interest comes a critical need for solid data about how the agriculture sector is already generating and using renewable energy.
In response to this need, the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) is launching a new, annual survey program to collect and publish renewable energy data. As we prepare to launch this new program in 2012, we are looking to farmers, farm and energy organizations, and other stakeholders to tell us exactly what information they want and need.
If you have thoughts or suggestions, please let us know. Go online and provide your input by August 2.
We’re open to looking at all aspects of renewable energy production and use, including issues such as the costs and benefits, the motivators and obstacles, and the handling and use of energy co-products. If you have an interest in agriculture’s production and use of renewable energy, now’s your time to weigh in and help shape this important new initiative.