Though there is no specific budget for the agreement, Vilsack said it is a promise to keep working with dairies on sustainability – something that may ultimately lead to more jobs, economic growth and more dairy products for consumers.
"Doubling renewable energy is not just simply about creating renewable energy, it's about the jobs connected to it," Vilsack noted. "When you sell a digester, somebody's got to build it, somebody's got to install it. Every once in a while somebody's got to repair it. Those are job opportunities, and obviously the energy that's being produced is going to help the bottom line. That's the process, and that's really why we're interested in all of this."
Central New York dairy farmer Doug Young said he was looking forward to building his own anaerobic digester in hopes of "converting manure from a liability to an asset." He noted that he's been investigating the process for nearly 20 years.
Gallagher added that Young's situation is not uncommon. As any technology evolves, early adopters bear the brunt of cost and learning curve. But, the technology is now at a point where it can be implemented effectively, he said.
"As more and more producers embrace this technology or other energy efficiency opportunities, farmers are going to do what farmers always do – they're going to take a look at what their neighbors are doing and if they see their neighbor doing something successful, they are going to replicate it and try to improve on it."