Afternoon TEA: Selling away our food supply
The skyrocketing prices and inflation that every-day Americans are facing right now isn’t news to anyone—we’ve all seen the prices ticking up everywhere from the gas pump to the grocery store. The cost of groceries alone has crept up over 8 percent higher than they were just a year ago. And, that’s why an increasing trend of taking rich and fertile American farmland and turning it into subsidized solar panel fields is all the more disturbing. To achieve any sort of successful scale, solar needs land—a lot of it. The Heartland Institute found that replacing traditional energy sources with solar power would require 57,048 square miles of land—an area equivalent to the size of New York and Vermont—for 18.8 billion solar panels. And, the best land to cover in solar panels is rural land that is home to wildlife and our American farming community.
What will this trend mean for us in the long term as we chip away at food supplies in favor of taxpayer-funded “green” energy?
Solar energy companies are often able to pay farmers more than they can earn from growing and selling crops to lease that farmland for large solar panel installations instead. But, the ability to pay that premium for our American farms isn’t a tale of free market-driven success. A 2018 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that “government policy to help grow [solar] markets around the world played a critical role in reducing this technology’s costs.” These policies include “renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, and a variety of subsidies” that accounted for approximately 60 percent of the cost reduction that solar energy has achieved over the last 40 years.
Then we need to consider what happens to that farmland once it’s blanketed in solar panels. A Michigan Technological University survey found that many farmers question what the structures required for solar power will do to the long-term quality of their farmland. As one farmer put it, “I’m concerned too, if you’re pouring a bunch of concrete and putting in permanent structures, what does this look like in the end of 20 or 30 years?” And, who will bring that precious farmland back to tillable soil decades down the road if every day Americans need affordable food like they do now?
No one can fault farmers for using their land to make money and keep their family farms running. But, as we follow that money toward a questionable future, we all need to think about our real priorities as Americans and just flat out common-sense. Do we really believe that, reducing agricultural land…while the price of everything from beef to apples is skyrocketing…to replace it with an expensive, unreliable, government-subsidized energy source…while energy prices are skyrocketing, sounds like a logical plan?
And, that’s why it’s so important that we stop letting the hysterical “green-at-any-cost” crowd scare us into literally leasing away the amber waves of grain that have fed this country—as well as many others around the globe—for generations. As that crowd often likes to say, our future and our children’s future truly depend on it.