- By Doug Baird
Solar farms can be dismantled, but these “make-a-buck” housing developments are impossible to get rid of; and they don’t age well.
“We’d be wiser to shade parking lots with solar panels and use our fields to produce food” — Jim Evans
“We” is emptiest word in Tompkins County. How can you say “we” when both the Town and the County excluded 95% of Lansing’s rural residents from any participation in a plan that turned our rural community into Agricultural Zone for the exclusive benefit of its richest and best connected members.
The Farm Bureau, farmers, politicians, advocates, [and reporters] never even bothered to talk with renting-landowning stakeholders: those that actually own the land and pay the taxes. This group has been under attack by high assessments and taxes, low agricultural rents, and preemptive zoning ploys to force land sales to industrial farming companies.
Solar farms are a lifeline – leasing to a solar farm can pay enough for rural landowners to keep their land – but it threatens to derail the plans of some very important interests.
While solar farms can be quickly dismantled, removed, and recycled when the lease is over — Industrial farming pollutes the land so much, that it takes years before fields can be cleansed enough to allow organic food production. And the pollution only increases over time. Industrial farming practices are not subject to local laws or controls in New York State.
“Prime farmland” is a designation from a 1960’s USGA survey [long before industrial farming arrived] and means “suitable for most kinds of farming” — land that cannot legally be farmed organically can no longer be called “prime farmland.”
Mr. Sigler talks about not wanting “an industrial site literally 100 feet from my backyard,” and yet “agriculture” can buy the land next to your home and build a multi-million gallon open cesspit of sewer-gas-emitting slurry [they call a ‘lagoon’] 100 feet from your backyard whenever they want; and they have done so.
Even the NYDEC admits that agricultural activities are responsible for more than four times the impairing phosphorus loading pollution in Cayuga Lake as all the other sources: urban, residential, industrial, and natural, combined.
The picture Mr. Sigler paints is an attempt to whitewash the dirty reality.
It’s well to note during this COVID-19 crisis; that both the CDC and the World Health Organization have voiced grave concerns about industrial farming practices leading to Pandemics of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Many scientists now believe that the next pandemic is at least as likely to start on a factory farm here in the U.S. as it is at a live wildlife market in some other country. How comforting is that for the neighbors?
Poor little rich farm.
A Cayuga County giant [commonly known as Willet Dairy] has bought many thousands of acres of Lansing farmland and is continually pressuring farmers and landowners to sell out.
It’s not unreasonable to suppose, that with its money and influence at every level; rural Lansing will become the property of a single corporation in the near future. [Or to put it more bluntly: Fifteen-thousand acres of hormone filled antibiotic-resistant waste; filtering down to Salmon Creek and the Lake.] The only stumbling block to this plan is the people who don’t want to sell.
If you want to understand the Tompkins County’s rural policy; just follow the money. The next time you see those fast-tracked farming hand-outs and editorials splashed in the local media; try to look behind the billboard at Lansing’s rural poor.
I bought the land I rent for farming 30 years ago, and not from a farmer; and I’ve worked in warehouses and factories, and even cleaned toilets in an office building at night to keep it. And I don’t want to have to sell it just to fatten the profits in some rich farmer’s pocket. [Or to make Lansing’s Urban Sprawl Bedroom Community feel good about itself.
So Mike: If you can find the time to speak to some real stakeholders about the future of solar farms and the health of rural Lansing — we’re still waiting.