The LDS Church should create solar and wind farms

Opinion contributed by Johnny Townsend, The Salt Lake Tribune

Because the LDS Church is tight-lipped about its assets, it’s difficult to know exactly how many farms and ranches it owns and operates. Different sources list 290,000 acres in one part of Florida, another 380,000 acres in another part. One source lists 200,000 acres along the Utah/Wyoming border, a tract of 288,000 acres in Nebraska, and various other farms in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.

The LDS Church claims its multi-billion-dollar portfolios are preparation for hard times. Investing to create more outdoor jobs would help address both immediate and long-term needs in the face of the pandemic. And, as even more hard times will increasingly be related to climate change, why not add investments in solar and wind power to church portfolios? Why not add carbon capture technologies? These and other “green” enterprises are where future income lies, not fossil fuels. Read more here. 

Johnny Townsend, Seattle, is the author of, among other works, “Breaking the Promise of the Promised Land,” “Human Compassion for Beginners” and “Am I My Planet’s Keeper?”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The following articles, “how-to” guides and other resources provide information on ways landowners, farmers, solar and wind businesses and local communities can benefit from renewable energy development, which helps to mitigate hard times related to climate change.

FARM BANKRUPTCIES

LAND LEASES

Solar and wind farm leases create extra income for farmers and other landowners and provide valuable tax revenues for local communities.

CO-LOCATION RESOURCES

Co-locating apiaries, pollinator-friendly plants, and industrial hemp with solar and wind projects can provide extra income for farmers and improve Nebraska’s honey production and retail sales, among other benefits.

Area USDA 2019 honey production reports, Aberdeen Times
LINCOLN, Neb. — Honey production in 2019 from Nebraska producers with five or more colonies totaled 2.03 million pounds, down 14 percent from 2018, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 39,000 honey producing colonies in Nebraska during 2019, down 3 percent from 2018. Average yield was 52 pounds per colony, down 7 pounds from 2018. Producer stocks were 223,000 pounds on December 15, 2019 down from 850,000 pounds a year earlier. Prices for the 2019 crop averaged $1.46 per pound, down from $2.01 per pound in 2018. Prices were based on retail sales by producers and sales to private processors and cooperatives. Total value of honey produced in 2019 was $2.96 million, down 38 percent from 2018.

Previously-Posted Resources for Creating Pollinator-Friendly Solar Sites

Resources for potentially co-locating solar and wind projects with Nebraska industrial hemp crops for extra farm income:

  • Hemp Production in Nebraska, CropWatch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Hemp (Cannabis sativa) has been a major crop globally for centuries, used for the production of fiber, medicine, and other products. In the 2018 farm bill, industrial hemp was removed from the controlled substance list and hemp farmers were made eligible for federal crop insurance and researchers were enabled to apply for federal grants. In that year US hemp production increased to 78,176 acres, an increase of more than 200% from 2017 when hemp was grown for research. Nebraska legalized hemp production for fiber, grain, or cannabidiol (CBD) in 2019, with the condition that plant parts of industrial hemp have a THC concentration of less than 0.3%. Production and use of marijuana and THC for medical and recreational purposes remain illegal in Nebraska.
  • Hemp Program, Nebraska Department of Agriculture
  • Study: Hemp Could Help Declining Honeybee Population, Forbes
    study from Colorado State University reports that industrial hemp could help declining bee populations—a source of great ecological concern—because it’s a great source of pollen.
  • What are the benefits of co-locating solar and crop production? See: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar, Department of Energy
  • Eco Friendly Has a New Name: Hemp!, J-Tech Solar
  • Hemp, Kutak Rock

Photo: Ismail Dweikat, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor of agronomy and horticulture, has been researching hemp production in small plots for the last two crop seasons.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY GUIDES FOR SOLAR & SMALL WIND PROJECTS