Solar Energy Could Provide Long-Term Income to Illinois Dairy Farms

Solar energy fields could provide long-term, sustainable income to participating Illinois dairy farmers. ( Farm Journal, Inc. )

The American Dairy Association of the Midwest, Illinois Chapter, has voted to align with the UpField Group to promote renewable energy with dairy farmers that could result in agreements worth tens of thousands of dollars annually.

The agreements, between farmers and UpField, involve land leases for community solar projects. Each project typically will involve 10 to 20 acres, with lease payments ranging between $1,000 and $2,000 per acre for the life of the project, which often ranges from 15 to 20 years. Total payments might range from a $150,000 to up $800,000.

Each applying farmer won’t necessarily be accepted, however, because each farm and each site must first be assessed for suitability. But for those who qualify, such agreements can provide assured, on-going income and a way for farms to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Working with UpField provides an opportunity for dairy farmers who are interested in solar power the chance to have a stable income source while contributing to the sustainability story that our dairy farmers tell,” says Bill Deutsch, a KeKalb County, Ill. dairy farmer.

The agreement also furthers the dairy industry’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020.