Renewable energy took center stage during a quick legislative farm tour orchestrated by the Lenawee County Farm Bureau Aug. 17. A cohort of officials representing county and state government toured a pair of forward-thinking farms north of Morenci, each with substantial investments in a cleaner, more responsible energy future made possible by advances in the components and processes of solar and methane-based power.
Guests include Lenawee County Commissioners Dave Stimpson, Jim Goetz, Nancy Jenkins-Arno, K.Z. Bolton.; and staffers representing the offices of Dist. 17 State Senator Dale Zorn, Dist. 57 State Representative Bronna Kahle, and Dist. 7 U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg.
Other guests included Lenawee Conservation District Director Brooke Bollwahn, Matt Swartzlander from the Adrian Chamber of Commerce and Harvest Solar representative Lee Andre.
After a brief orientation at the Raymond & Stutzman farm, attendees boarded a wagon and cautiously made their way a couple miles south to Sunryz Dairy. Owner Case Ryzebol explained the progress being made there on a massive methane digesting system that, once complete, will add value to his dairy farm by converting livestock waste into clean-burning fuel gas he can sell into an increasingly lucrative energy marketplace.
From there it was a short backtrack up to State Line Farms, where owner Gary Gallup showed off the solar array installed amid his corn and soybean fields. The right combination of substate soils, topography and convenient proximity to existing electrical transmission infrastructure made Gallup’s seven-acre site a perfect opportunity for diversifying his energy portfolio by selling electricity back to the grid.
From there it was back to Raymond & Stutzman Farms, where attendees enjoyed lunch provided by Wolf it Down Barbecue and opportunity to exchange thoughts and insights between guests and hosts alike.
“Our goal for this tour was to stimulate dialogue between our farmers and local, state and federal leaders regarding the future of green energy production,” said Lenawee County Farm Bureau President Tom VanWagner, noting that both sites on the morning’s agenda illustrated the need for Farm Bureau policy to stay current with industry trends and innovations in the renewable energy sector, particularly as the technologies that make it profitable become increasingly affordable and practical.