Sietsma Farms in central Michigan sends more than a million turkeys a year to the dinner table.
That’s a lot of Thanksgiving feasts.
A million turkeys also generate a lot of waste – on the order of 17,000 tons of litter per year. Local farms are happy to use it as fertilizer, but a little litter goes a long way – and at this point, the litter has to go farther and farther away. In fact, it can cost as much as $10 a ton just to get it to mid-Michigan farms that can use it. A million turkeys also need to eat. To feed all those birds, Sietsma Farms has its own mill that creates feed pellets, which is a very energy intensive process.
Thanks to a $500,000 energy grant and $700,750 energy loan from USDA Rural Development, Sietsma Farms has constructed a biomass renewable energy plant adjacent to their Howard City facility. This will use the turkey litter to power the feed processing center. The energy plant will require 14,000 tons of litter per year to produce approximately 8,625 pounds of steam and 462 kW per hour.
It will draw upon the waste of five turkey operations within a 45-mile radius for its fuel, in effect turning a hazardous substance into a valuable one. As a result, there will be less pollution, less odors and more electricity for other users in the area.
We estimate that the project will pay for itself within four years.
Not bad for a holiday dinner entrée.
Alec Lloyd, Michigan Public Information Coordinator, USDA Rural Development
Spinach Salad with Sliced Egg, Warm Bacon Dressing and Crumbled Clemson Blue Cheese
Tilapia Filet with a Shrimp Mornay Sauce
Sweet Potato au Gratin with Goat Cheese and Apples
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Apple Cobbler with Fresh Whipped Cream
In addition to being delicious, there is one thing each of these menu items has in common – they were all made from locally provided ingredients from South Carolina and were highlight of the 2009 Agribusiness Summit hosted by the Palmetto Institute. Read more »
My first three weeks interning for USDA have been extremely interesting and enjoyable. A native of Austin, Texas, I grew up spending most weekends on my grandparents’ farm, the same farm where we currently raise Texas Longhorn cattle. Instead of returning to Austin after the baseball season, I came to Washington, DC to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn about both agriculture and the government while also making a difference.
I knew USDA played a significant role in the lives of farmers and ranchers, but I continue to be amazed by the breadth of programs and agencies here. Rural Development, for example, does amazing work in rural communities, from building hospitals to improving water supplies to increasing the availability of broadband internet. I also have a greater appreciation for USDA’s role in disease and pest control and its significant impact on the success of our country’s agricultural output and economy over the years.
In addition to learning about USDA, I have been afforded some great opportunities through my internship. This week I went to a Tribal Leaders Reception for the National Congress of American Indians. I met several interesting people, both tribal leaders and people who work in other departments of the government.
The reception was held in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. It was my first time visiting the museum and reminded me of all the great museums and government buildings in Washington, DC. I have been to a few of them now, with my favorite two being the Library of Congress and the National Archives. I’m looking forward to more great experiences in the weeks to come.
Ross Ohlendorf, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is spending part of his off-season at the United States Department of Agriculture. A graduate of Princeton University, he is spending eight weeks as an intern with USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs.
Do you want to make healthier food choices, but aren’t sure where to start?
USDA has three new on-line tools and sites that can get you going: Read more »
Remember when your favorite dish unexpectedly appeared on the menu at your school cafeteria? It was the same feeling of excitement today at the USDA Cafeteria. White House Chef Sam Kass mixed up Honey Crisp Apple Salad (with or without chicken) for USDA employees and visitors as Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan continues the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food roll-out week. Read more »
Secretary Vilsack spoke this morning at the Future Farmers of America State Presidents’ meeting. He had the opportunity to meet with FFA’s national and state leaders, and took a few minutes to congratulate them on their election to leadership posts in an organization of more than 500,000 active members. Read more »