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GOP Bill Would Pull Farmland Tax Credits From Farmers Hosting Solar Power Installations
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/30/2023

Farm fields with solar power installations would no longer qualify for state tax credits under a new Republican bill. One GOP lawmaker claims it's about protecting farmland from being used for "nonsense" renewable energy projects.

The legislation, introduced by state Rep. Ellen Schutt, R-Clinton, and state Sen. Cory Tomczyk, R-Mosinee, is brief. With two sentences, the bill would block farmers from receiving Wisconsin farmland preservation tax credits for any part of their fields with solar panels that aren't specifically used to support farming.

During a Wednesday public hearing before the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, Schutt said the bill is addressing a "loophole in current law" that allows farmers to get state funds meant to preserve farmland "despite completely changing the land to build solar energy facilities on it."

"For example, if someone owns 1,000 acres in the farmland preservation program and built an energy facility on 500 acres of that land, that person will still receive 100 percent of the farmland preservation tax credit," Schutt said. "This is wrong."

Schutt said there's been a substantial increase in solar projects that "permanently damaged the land" by removing topsoil.

Committee Chair Rep. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, agreed and called the practice "craziness." He said he's frustrated by the push for renewable wind and solar energy projects on agricultural land, which he called "nonsense."

"And the fact that we could use literally 2 percent of those acres — we could have the same amount of power if we'd make nuclear power part of the portfolio standards," Macco said.

Conservation advocacy group Clean Wisconsin opposes the legislation. Government relations director Erik Kanter said the state farmland preservation program already allows farmers to use land for energy production, namely by growing corn used to produce ethanol.

Source: wpr.org

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