Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Secretary Vilsack Tours Progressive Pennsylvania

 From left: James Ringler, Glenn Stoltzfus, AU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, Duane Stoltzfus and Dwight Stoltzfus. The Stoltzfus brothers explain how the compost solids are produced from their anaerobic digester. An anaerobic digester is a component of a waste management system that captures biogas for energy production a byproduct of this system are compost solids that are used for bedding for the dairy’s cattle. The anaerobic digester practice is part of a planned conservation management system that manages manure and/or comprehensive nutrient management system. Secretary Vilsack visited the Stoltzfus’  Pennwood Dairy Farms on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 to announce the United States Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Secretary Vilsack visited the Stoltzfus’ Pennwood Dairy Farms on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 to announce the United States Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

On a muggy day in July, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a Pennsylvania dairy farm that is using an anaerobic digester to convert manure into electricity and high quality bedding, cutting energy costs and providing a resting area for more contented cows.  The digester, which went on-line a year ago, was funded in part with the support of USDA Rural Development.

Pennwood Farms, a farm owned by the Harvey Stoltzfus family, is constantly reinventing, changing and modernizing to ensure that the entire family–with six grandchildren– can continue farming together for years to come.  They started farming with 18 cows in 1962 on 50 acres rented from Harvey’s mother and gradually grew their herd to 570. The farm remains family-owned, uses an anaerobic digester to produce all of its electricity and sells enough power back to the local grid to meet the needs of an estimated 600 people.  The digester also produces clean bedding as a byproduct, which saves the owners from having to buy bedding for the dairy herd. In all, manure from the farm creates about 920,000 kWh of electricity a year.

From left: Ashley Stoltzfus, Justine Stoltzfus, “Dixie”, Gail Stoltzfus, Madison Stoltzfus and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack discuss their mutual love of man’s best friend during Secretary Vilsack’s visit to the Stoltzfus’ Pennwood Dairy Farms in Berlin, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. During Secretary Vilsack’s visit he highlighted the United States Department of Agriculture's energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

From left: Ashley Stoltzfus, Justine Stoltzfus, “Dixie”, Gail Stoltzfus, Madison Stoltzfus and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack discuss their mutual love of man’s best friend during Secretary Vilsack’s visit to the Stoltzfus’ Pennwood Dairy Farms in Berlin, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

USDA supported deployment of the biodigester by providing grants and loans in 2010 totaling over $528,000 through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  This project is an example of investments the Obama Administration has made to help create jobs and grow the rural economy.

To read more about the Secretary’s visit, click here.

Compost solids produced by the anaerobic digester at Pennwood Dairy Farms in Berlin Pennsylvania. An anaerobic digester is a component of a waste management system that captures biogas for energy production a byproduct of this system are compost solids that are used for bedding for the dairy’s cattle. The anaerobic digester practice is part of a planned conservation management system that manages manure and/or comprehensive nutrient management system. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the dairy on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 to announce the United States Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Compost solids produced by the anaerobic digester at Pennwood Dairy Farms in Berlin Pennsylvania. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the dairy on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 to announce the United States Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Leave a Reply