Letter: Saving and protecting agricultural land for future farming

From: Lois Bonnell


Over and over, I hear the argument against leasing farmland to solar for 30 years, but where is the argument for farmland being sold and developed, lost to concrete forever?

It seems to me that there isn’t much concern about allowing large companies to purchase and build on county farmland. But the same folks who support putting houses and factories on farmland have a problem with local farm business owners leasing their farmland to solar for income.

Once land is sold and developed, it is lost to agriculture forever. The most recent approval was 88 acres of farmland for a food manufacturing company. These are 88 acres that will never be farmland again. County officials embraced this company for economic benefits but turned down a company developing a solar project that produces similar benefits.

Both solar and manufacturing create jobs and tax revenue for the county. The factory will use our water supply and sewer services, trash and landfill, electricity, police, and fire services, and add traffic on our county roads. A solar project will not cause a burden to police and fire services or use water and sewer services. Solar doesn’t create trash, excessive noise, or traffic on roads. And solar projects produce energy that other businesses rely on.

I urge the county to think about all possible uses for land, including solar, and not just a select few.

Allowing solar in Bartholomew County will create a diversified tax base and provide a steady income for the farm businesses while letting the land rest for 30 years, saving it from being sold for development, and keeping it in the family for future farming.

We should prioritize especially those that can bring additional benefits to business owners and the land they rely on, both in the short and long term. I and my family deserve to make our own choices about how we use our land now and for future generations.