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USDA Rural Development Grant Makes Chautauqua County Maple Producer More Energy Efficient

By Thomas Becker
Doug and Linda Fairbanks own and operate a maple production facility inChautauqua County,New Yorkwhere they produce approximately 1,200 gallons of maple syrup annually.  The equipment used in converting the raw sap to maple syrup was outdated and inefficient.  They applied and were awarded a grant from USDA Rural Development via the Rural Energy for America Program to help purchase a new reverse osmosis machine and a new heat combustion chamber.  These two items helped increase the efficiency of their operation and saved them money and time in the evaporation process.  Also the new combustion chamber has an automatic fuel shut off safety mechanism in case the flame goes out.  The new reverse osmosis machine is about twice as efficient as the old machine as the raw sap comes into the machine at 1.5-2% sugar and goes out at about 10% sugar versus the old machine at 6% sugar.

Fairbanks Maple Products, Sugar Shack, Chautaugua County, NY Photograph by Thomas Becker

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides grants and loan guarantees to farmers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.  Most rural projects that reduce energy usage in existing buildings and processes and result in savings for the agricultural producer or small business are eligible as energy efficiency projects.  These include projects such as retrofitting lighting or insulation, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficient units.  Eligible renewable energy projects include projects that produce energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydrogen.  Last year, 39New Yorkprojects received more than $1.4 million through the program.
For more information on USDA Rural Development programs, contact the New York State Office at (315) 477-6400 or visit Rural Development’s website at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ny.
Thomas Becker is an Area Specialist with USDA Rural Development in Bath.  He can be reached at 607-77-7398 ext. 4 or Thomas.Becker@ny.usda.gov.    


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