On-farm energy development gives growers a lot to think about

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With 25 percent of the nation’s energy coming from on-farm sources by 2025, farmers and ranchers need to be engaged in the discussion regarding the many issues, benefits and challenges related to on-farm energy development, Dale Arnold, director of energy development at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, told growers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting.

Farmers’ roles in providing energy will be as diverse as agriculture itself, with many providing biomass feedstocks and hosting energy generation facilities and pipelines, Arnold said during an issues conference on the obstacles and opportunities of on-farm energy development.

Whether it’s establishing wind or solar developments, running biomass production facilities or hosting oil and gas exploration projects, “everything and anything is negotiable.”

Arnold urged farmers and ranchers to delve deep before they sign any lease, agreement or easement.

“You have the answers,” he said. “You just need to think of the questions.”

And if an agreement is being crafted between an energy developer and multiple property owners, “your farm is as you unique as your fingerprint,” and the final contract should ultimately reflect that. Any agreement should clearly spell out how repairs and remediation will be handled after construction, as well as how the farm’s operation will have to change, if at all.

Among the issues that are likely to arise as technology expands to meet energy demands are those related to local, state and national laws. Arnold suggested that farmers and ranchers could head off some potential problems by working within their communities in advance to develop an approach to help meet local energy needs while minimizing conflict.

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