This letter was submitted to LebTown. Read LebTown’s submission policy here.

My family has recently made a very hard decision and we have come to the conclusion that we need to make our land available for the Lebanon Solar Project. We gave it a lot of thought, and we’re doing this because we believe that it is in the best interest of our future and our farm. 

Thear a lot of romanticizing about our local “family farms” from some folks who are opposed to this solar project. But these are hard times for family farms! Farms have been operating for the last several years on 2021 expenses such as feed, seed, fertilizer and repair costs and receiving only 1980 milk prices. This makes it next to impossible to operate and make a profit. Thirty years from now agriculture might be more profitable for future generations. This decision will help our family, yes, but we also agreed to this type of development because solar projects help protect the land underneath in case somebody wants to farm it again in the future. It’s a lot like the Conservation Reserve Program, in my view. Solar may not be the right choice for every farm, but it’s the right choice for ours. 

The fact is, North Annville Township will change drastically in the next 10-15 years. Just like my kids, most younger people are not interested in carrying on the family farm. Farm kids have seen how their parents have had to work seven days a week, twelve to fourteen hours a day and make all kinds of sacrifices for very little income. Most current North Annville farms are owned by people 60 years or older, we believe that solar farms are the best choice as opposed to housing or industrial warehouses where the land is gone forever. 

There’s been a lot of loose talk about how this solar project won’t really benefit our community, but I do not believe these opinions are based in fact. When Lebanon Solar is under construction, it will bring construction jobs to our community. On top of that, this project will add tax revenue while not adding any need for new infrastructure such as policing and roads. These benefits only strengthen my belief that Lebanon Solar needs to move forward. We should embrace this opportunity now, while we have the chance. 

Finally, I know the North Annville Board of Supervisors have been hearing a lot on this issue, and I want to thank them for their hard work. I think it’s important for everybody to understand that the upcoming meeting about the project should be based on just the facts. The township has rules for solar farms, and if the proposed project meets those rules, then the project should be allowed to move forward. 

At the end of the day, we should all be allowed the freedom to make our own decisions about how to use our own property to best serve the needs of our families, now and for the future. Therefore we are moving forward with the Lebanon Solar Project. 

Donald Baer is a farmer and co-owner of Baer Bros. Farm in Annville.

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