I recently traveled to St. Paul talking to my legislators as a representative of Minnesota Farm Bureau. I am a strong proponent that we need to stay in contact with our representatives. Is there a problem with that? Most would say not, but . . .
Are We Talking to the Choir?
We are talking to the choir. Because they represent Greater Minnesota, they know and understand our concerns and issues. I truly believe we need to do a better job at connecting with legislators that do not understand rural Minnesota.
During one of our visits, I casually asked one of my representatives if they ever sat down and had coffee with someone on the other side of the aisle. By the response and expression, I don’t think they expected that question. The answer was no.
That is a problem and something that needs to be addressed.
We talked about the main topic areas that MN Farm Bureau gave us which are important, but I had one more issue I wanted to talk about.
What’s Up With the Solar Panel Push?
The prior day to Day on the Hill, my mother-in-law received a letter from a company that wants to put solar panels on her farm. It is a piece of land directly across the road from where I live. A piece of land that we have helped farm for well over 40 years. And . . . it’s a very good piece of land and one of our most productive.
Minnesota’s Clean EnerGy Bill
This company wants to put solar panels on it. Why are they inquiring? Because our Minnesota Legislature has enacted a Clean Energy bill that will force Minnesota into 100 percent clean energy by 2040. This is resulting in the need for a significant increase on renewable energy.Don’t get me wrong, I am not against renewable energy. I am against the idea of being forced into that arena. So in order to meet the goal, our state needs more solar panels and windmills. The forecast is the state will lose 55,000 acres of farmland.
When I initially heard 55,000 acres, I was thinking, “Oh, they will install the solar panels on marginal land.”
They want and need PRIME farmland. And guess what? Many landowners will take them up on it because they will pay $1300 per year per acre when the going rate for rent is $300-$375 acre. What do you think this is going to do to farmers who rent land to put food on our plates? And I am sure there will be other unintended consequences that i am not aware of today.
What is the Answer?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer. I believe in private property rights. But here is an example of ramifications of such crazy legislation. And you know what? Our state legislators do not understand rural Minnesota, because they can’t even sit down and have a cup of coffee.