AFT Releases Smart Solar Report for Connecticut: Farmer Perspectives Front and Center
American Farmland Trust (AFT) in partnership with AgriSolar Consulting released “Smart Solar in Connecticut: Farmer Survey Findings & Initial Recommendations,” Which presents farmer perspectives on smart solar on Connecticut farmland. Through a statewide survey, AFT captured the interests, priorities, needs, and concerns related to solar on farmland from nearly 200 farmers and farmland owners throughout Connecticut. AFT assessed challenges and opportunities for solar on farmland across a diversity of stakeholders.
According to AFT’s 2020 Farms Under Threat: A New England Perspective, 23,000 acres of Connecticut farmland were converted to urban development or low-density residential land use between 2001 and 2016, putting Connecticut in the top three states nationally for the percentage of farmland developed or compromised. As development increases, protecting our best soil impacts food security for Connecticut residents. With Smart Solar policies and continued investment in farmland protection, Connecticut can expand renewable energy installations that minimize the negative impact on the state’s best farmland, which plays a critical role in addressing climate change.
“With this project, AFT is highlighting the central role that farmers and agricultural landowners will have in supporting and guiding a national, regional, and local transition to clean energy,” said Ethan Winter, AFT Smart Solar Director. ” The Department of Energy estimates more than 10 million acres may be needed to scale up solar energy by 2050, and much of this development could be sited on agricultural lands. Connecticut needs both—expanded renewable energy and productive, resilient farms. We thank the farmers, solar developers, agencies, and project advisory committee members for engaging in this project which provides a foundation for expanding Smart Solar℠ initiatives in Connecticut and the Northeast.”
“The “Smart Solar in Connecticut” report reflects a rigorous cross-sector, multi-stakeholder engagement process, which is vital for just, equitable, and inclusive outcomes in dual-use solar,” said Alexis Pascaris, founder of AgriSolar Consulting and co-author of the report. “This project’s effort serves as a model for future work focused on mitigating challenges and capturing opportunities at the nexus of agriculture and energy.”
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.