Energy Sprawl


I’m old enough to remember when urban sprawl was a big concern.  Valuable farmland being taken out of production for development happens all across the country in the name of progress.  Fortunately thanks to the efficiency and productivity of modern agriculture, we have not experienced a drop in food production.  In fact, most years (although not this year) we still deal with market depressing surpluses.  Hopefully we’ll never look back and regret taking all those acres out of production.  While this has been going on, some still have criticized the biofuels industry for causing more acres to be planted just to produce fuel.  Those same critics don’t seem to be concerned about lost acres or the fact that crops used for biofuels are also used for many other products including food.  Today urban sprawl has taken on a new form.  Ironically it also has to do with energy.  Our desire for more energy sources has led to energy sprawl.  Now acres are being taken out of production for solar and wind farms.  I’m not opposed to either of these but I am concerned with the loss of productive farmland.  I support the rights of land owners to make their own decisions with their land.  I understand that in many cases the financial offer to sell or lease their land is just too good to pass up.  I just hope and urge those making those decisions to do their homework.  Be sure to ask the right questions and seek legal counsel to protect against potential future liabilities.  While I understand these energy fields need to be located in certain areas for maximum production I do wish they could be located in places other than the middle of prime farmland.  I’ve heard the many concerns and objections that have been raised about these energy farms.  In fact I am still trying to get used to seeing wind mills in my area that have dramatically altered the landscape near me but I’m sure that in time they won’t seem as noticeable as they do at first.  I am concerned about what happens if these energy companies go out of business and what happens to abandoned turbines and solar panels across thousands of acres.  My biggest concern however is with lost acres.  Hopefully we’ll never have to deal with a food production shortage in this country but someday it could happen.  The tools and technologies that enable us to produce more food on fewer acres are constantly under attack.  If we lose them as well as acres then we could be in trouble someday.  I understand the need for energy production but it should not come at the expense of food production.  If done correctly we can do both but we need to remember the old saying about land that they aren’t making any more of it.  Let’s make sure we don’t sacrifice food security in our efforts to obtain energy security.