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    PERC Signs Memorandum of Understanding with U.S. Department of Agriculture

     
    Washington, DC (November 1, 2005) —The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) set an important precedent with the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

    In signing a Memorandum of Understanding, ARS and PERC, through its Agriculture Advisory Committee, will work together on research and technology development projects that overlap their respective missions. This partnership will be used to leverage investments with additional financial and technical resources, encouraging greater innovation and progress towards a shared vision of developing solutions to agricultural problems.

    “Partnerships are the most efficient means for technology development and transfer,” said PERC Director of Agriculture Programs Mark Leitman.  “As procurement of federal funds and other resources for research and development become more competitive, alliances with USDA, agricultural trade organizations, land grant universities, and other agriculture players remain a key strategy to successful technology deployment.”

    The joint partnership will ensure that research and technology development is responsive to current and emerging customer and stakeholder needs and national priorities. ARS and PERC will develop detailed research and technology proposals, outlining additional requirements to address those needs and priorities.  Both parties will also assist in monitoring the effectiveness of technologies and provide feedback to developers to help make necessary improvements in technologies, sharing findings within their respective agencies, as well as with their customers and stakeholders.

    Potential areas of jointly conducted research for ARS and PERC addressed in the MOU include organic farming, non-chemical alternatives to methyl bromide, pathogen reduction, pest and weed control, on-farm distributed energy generation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and remediation of agricultural waste.

    "This agreement is an excellent example of the mutual benefits of the USDA partnering with industry," said Donald C. Erbach, national program leader for engineering and energy for ARS.

     "It builds upon previous agreements such as one that has already led to a prototype for organic farmers of a commercial thermal cotton defoliator," Erbach said.  "Together we will similarly explore other ways farmers can use propane as an alternative fuel and as part of weed and insect control on the farm."

    ARS partnerships like this one are designed to complement research programs, accelerate research results to the private sector, exchange information and knowledge, stimulate new business and economic development, enhance U.S. trade, and preserve the environment.

    The partnership between PERC and the USDA is not a new one.  Recently, the USDA awarded PERC a $40,000 Conservation Innovation Grant, allowing the Council to partner with the Western Placer Unified School District, located in Northern California, which operates a 280-acre farm and a 179-acre outdoor learning environment facility.

    PERC’s vision in agriculture is that by 2010, the agricultural industry will recognize propane as a preferred energy source offering exceptional value. This value is achieved through a unique combination of product benefits, including cost-effectiveness, efficiency and productivity, reliability, portability and environmental friendliness.

    The ARS is the principal research agency of the USDA and is charged with extending the nation’s scientific knowledge across a broad range of program areas. The ARS seeks to achieve sustainable agricultural productivity, provides leadership in research, and helps people conserve, improve, and sustain natural resources and the environment.  This USDA agency provides state-of-the-art science and technology to meet customer needs and scientific goals.

    For more information on PERC and its programs to promote the safe and efficient use of propane in agriculture, call (202) 452- 8975 or visit www.agpropane.com.