Cozad Alfalfa

Cozad, Nebraska
Section 9006 Grant: $37,500

Cozad, a southern Nebraska town of 4,000, is known as the “Alfalfa Capital of the World.” The surrounding Dawson County grows and produces 25% of the dehydrated alfalfa in the United States. Cozad Alfalfa is one of two local producers of alfalfa pellets. Jon Montgomery, Cozad Alfalfa’s owner, was searching for relief from the high cost of natural gas used in the mill’s drying operations. That’s when he learned about the Section 9006 grant program.

Cozad Alfalfa used its Section 9006 grant to help fund the purchase and installation of a new solid fuel burning system to replace its natural gas system. The project also received a grant from the Nebraska Litter Reduction and Recyling Grant Program administered by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The new system uses sawdust from a furniture manufacturer in Lincoln as the primary fuel. It became operational in May 2005 and now displaces over 90% of the natural gas requirements of the dehydration process. The project is expected to pay for itself in 5 years.

“We are a small family-owned ag business,” Montgomery said. “The financial assistance provided by USDA was instrumental in making the decision to invest in the solid fuel burner. We also feel good about utilizing a waste fuel that otherwise would be placed in a landfill.”