Michigan farmland to solar power plan

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Michigan officials have decided to allow areas set aside for agricultural use to also build commercial solar arrays.

The Governor and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced the decision today which allows land currently enrolled in the department’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program to be used for commercial solar power projects.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell says the change “will not result in a loss of useable farmland” and will provide a “new opportunity for Michigan’s farmers to diversify.”

Currently, there are 3.4 million acres of farmland enrolled in the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program.

The land preservation program provides tax incentives to landowners who keep properties for agricultural use.

Michigan developers were having trouble finding farmland for large solar projects. This prompted agricultural and conservation partners to look at how renewable energy in the form of solar panels could be a part of the larger farmland preservation effort. 

The new policy also puts in place conditions that assure the land is returned to a state allowing for agriculture production practices after panels, wiring and other mechanisms are removed.

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