HomeEnvironment & Climate NewsCommentary: FARM Act Would Halt Subsidies Sacrificing Farmland to the 'Green Energy'...

Commentary: FARM Act Would Halt Subsidies Sacrificing Farmland to the ‘Green Energy’ Industry

By Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) & Isaac Orr

The conflict in Ukraine is reminding the Western world about the importance of energy independence and food security.

World leaders, including the Biden administration, argue we must increase wind and solar energy production to reduce dependence on Russian energy. Russia’s invasion demonstrates this strategy already failed and, in fact, helped bring this war about in the first place.

By strangling U.S. energy producers, the White House has fueled skyrocketing oil prices and enriched Russia’s rulers. An added consequence: Americans are now grappling with the highest gas prices ever recorded. And the pain doesn’t stop at the pump. Food prices, in particular wheat, have soared to record-breaking levels as well.

That’s why our response to Moscow’s aggression must be to maximize our ability to produce the energy and food the world desperately needs right here at home. That starts with preserving farmland for future generations.

Green Energy Uses Land

Thanks to the dizzying array of renewable energy carveouts that litter our tax code, taxpayers are forced to underwrite generous “green energy” giveaways, allowing power companies to effectively tap the public treasury to subsidize unreliable wind and solar farms.

As a result, prime agricultural land is often taken out of production, posing a long-term threat to America’s ability to feed the world.

Industrial solar and wind facilities are land-hungry ways to generate electricity that often fail to show up when we need them most.

It takes approximately eight acres of land per megawatt of installed solar capacity and an average of 106 acres per megawatt of wind energy. While it is possible to “farm around” wind turbines, this is not possible with solar panels.

This means increasing our reliance on unreliable wind and solar energy will consume enormous quantities of land while paradoxically making us more reliant on foreign countries for the power we need to heat our homes and run our factories.

Limited Power Per Acre

In fact, the amount of land needed to deploy intermittent wind and solar resources is even more considerable when one accounts for their low productivity relative to other energy sources.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar panels in Wisconsin produced just 16 percent of their potential output in 2020, and wind turbines produced 27.5 percent of theirs.

In other words, the vast majority of the time, Wisconsinites still rely on electricity generation sources that actually work persistently, such as coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, and natural gas.

EIA data reveal Wisconsin uses 7,014 MW of electricity, on average, every hour of the year. Therefore, it would require a whopping 350,700 acres of solar panels, or 2.6 million acres of wind turbines, to get that much power generation after accounting for the low production of wind turbines and solar panels.

The average farm size in Wisconsin is 222 acres. This means generating 7,104 MW of solar on average every hour of the year would require the land equivalent of 1,579 Wisconsin farms.

No More Green Welfare

That’s why we are working to enact the Future Agriculture Retention and Management (FARM) Act, which would get taxpayers out of the business of transforming farms into wind and solar facilities.

Some critics have argued that this bill is anti-wind and anti-solar.

That simply isn’t true. If electric companies want to build wind turbines or solar panels, nothing in the bill prevents them from doing so. But it does prevent taxpayer funds from tipping the scales in favor of wind and solar development at the expense of food production.

Our nation projects strength abroad not only through our military might but also through our ability to help feed our allies and produce our own reliable energy. Putting taxpayers on the hook to bankroll gold-plated subsidies to the green lobby hamstrings our ability to do that.

The FARM Act is a much-needed policy that will restore common sense and fairness to energy and agricultural policy by removing the corporate welfare that has propped up substandard energy sources for far too long.

Tom Tiffany (R-WI) represents Wisconsin’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Repreentatives. Isaac Orr (Isaac.orr@americanexperiment.org) is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. This article was originally published by the Washington Examiner and is republished with the express permission of its authors.

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) & Isaac Orr
Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) & Isaac Orr
Tom Tiffany (R-WI) represents Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House. Isaac Orr (Isaac.orr@americanexperiment.org) is a policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment.

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