Langmeier Dairy honored for energy efficiency

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Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes presents Joe Langmeier with the Energy Efficiency Excellence Award Monday morning. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)

Langmeier Dairy is the exclusive producer of the 16-ounce Brussels sprouts retail pack for Organic Valley.

 

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Langmeier Dairy near Patch Grove was honored with an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award Monday morning by Focus on Energy.

About 20 were on hand at the farm for the award presentation which included Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and State Senator Howard Marklein, as well as Joe Langmeier and representatives from Scenic Rivers Electric Co-op, Focus on Energy, Organic Valley and contractors who worked on energy efficiency projects from the new addition to the farming operation.

Langmeier Dairy, a 100-head organic dairy and crop farm, is one of 18 Wisconsin businesses and other groups which received the Energy Efficiency Excellence Award.

In addition to its commitment to energy efficiency, Langmeier Dairy is known for sustainable agriculture and for producing food products free of pesticides and antibiotics.

“It is an honor to be here to recognize your efforts. In my office, we’re promoting the core issues of equity and sustainability, and this ties right in with that work,” said Barnes before presenting the award to Langmeier. “Especially with the work of my office and the governor’s office, using the three ‘Ss,’ which is science, sustainability and stewardship; making sure that we are protecting the land we have right now and using it as best as we can possibly use it, in an efficient way that benefits everybody. We have a rich tradition in Wisconsin and this facility can be an example to the rest of the country, the rest of the world to have production at a lower cost and a lower impact.”

“We are honored to be selected to receive Focus on Energy’s 2019 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award,” said Langmeier. “We support practices that make economic sense, help the environment, and are socially responsible to our community and our world by reducing energy use while producing a nutritious product. Thank you to everyone at Focus on Energy for your assistance in helping us achieve our sustainability goals. I would like to thank everyone for being here. There are so many people supporting us. We are trying to be environmentally friendly and make an income.”

The award recognized energy efficiency projects at Langmeier Dairy’s new facility, where it processes and packages organic Brussels sprouts. Those projects included energy-efficient LED lighting and variable frequency drives (VFDs) to control the motor speed of the conveyor systems and packaging equipment used on the assembly line. The VFDs minimize system agitations and increase efficiency while also cutting energy use by 30-40 percent.

Langmeier said the Brussels sprouts operation has been up and running for about a year and will surpass their dairy operation.

“This is our future,” said Langmeier about the new Brussels sprouts facility. The goal is to not have dairy and to be a produce only farm, hopefully within a few years. He said there were numerous local and area contractors who helped build the facility and get the operation up and running.

“The community certainly has supported us and good people want to work for us. It’s nice when people are rooting for you.”

“The Langmeiers are our exclusive producer of the 16-ounce Brussels sprouts retail pack,” said Annake Ramsey, produce program manager at Organic Valley of La Farge. “We do have other producers in the co-op producing the 10-pound bulk pack. The retail bags from Langmeiers are grown and packed on  the farm.”

Langmeier noted the Brussels sprouts are distributed nationwide, with much going to the eastern states.

Langmeier Dairy received a financial incentive of more than $4,500 from Focus on Energy to help offset the initial cost of its investment in energy-efficient equipment in its facility. In addition, the upgrades will save an estimated 1,474,621 kilowatt hours of electricity over the life of the equipment, which is enough to power 125 homes for a year or charge about 133 million cellphones. Those kilowatt-hour savings also equate to around $161,000 in saved energy costs for the Langmeiers over the life of the equipment.

“These investments in energy efficiency, over the long term, help control the growth of energy demand in the state, which can reduce the need to build expensive new energy infrastructure and keep rates down for everybody,” Focus on Energy Program Director Erinn Monroe-Nye said at the beginning of the award presentation.

A recent third-party evaluation of Focus on Energy noted it runs the most-cost-effective statewide energy efficiency programs in the nation. The evaluation also found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates more than $5 in benefits for the state of Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs and reduced pollution.

“My senate district is the most agricultural-dependent senate district in the state of Wisconsin. We’ve got a lot of agriculture in this part of the state. And I’m just happy for this kind of investment to keep agriculture going well. You know, fourth generation (farm), this kind of investment, I hope, lays the groundwork for the fifth generation down the road,” said State Senator Howard Marklein.

Marklein also noted, “The cheapest source of power is the power you don’t use, congrats.”

“It feels pretty cool. An award was the last thing on our mind when we were thinking of doing it,” Langmeier said. “It ties to just how we farm, you know, switching to organic 20 years ago and our beliefs, trying to be as environmentally responsible as we can be. The last thing we wanted to do was not be thinking of the future. After everything we’ve done in the past already, we wanted to make sure we built this to be as clean as possible and protect the environment as best we can, and hopefully we can do even more. It’s just something we really believe in.”

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