(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is co-sponsoring a bill to collect data on farmland used for solar energy.
The Protecting Future Farmland Act would also ask the National Resources Conservation Service to assist farmers that grow crops in conjunction with solar energy systems, the senator said in a news release.
About 83% of new solar projects are farmland, said Grassley, a corn farmer who often shows his crops on social media. The federal government does not have a strategy to manage the land beneath the solar panels, he said. That leaves farmers worried about the quality of the land after the solar energy leases end.
“We must be certain that embracing solar doesn’t damage our most valuable commodity: our rich Iowa soil,” Grassley said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service said that 30.6 million acres of Iowa were farmland in 2020, and about 85,000 farms were scattered throughout the state.
The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin.
“While many farmers are choosing to expand clean, renewable energy – supporting energy independence and increasing revenues of their operation – we need to support our farmers’ land stewardship efforts and help them protect the farmland that is critical to the future of our rural economies and national food security,” Baldwin said.