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Many of us who live in Loudoun County have recognized the value of living in a county that supports and promotes agriculture. Virginia’s rich history of agriculture has many manifestations, including viticulture, dairy, grain, equine and produce, and is an invaluable enhancement of our quality of life as well as a huge economic engine for the commonwealth.

In fact, Virginia’s agriculture creates an economic impact of more than $55 billion into the economy annually and employs more than 350,000 people in the commonwealth. But our efforts to buy fresh and buy local can now mean more. The average size of a Virginia farm is only about 171 acres, and, as you may be aware, farming is not hugely lucrative. Farming is an industry where weather, pests and market fluctuations make most farming endeavors risky.

Those of us who support farmers now can increase our support by enabling farmers to have a long-term predictable source of revenue for their farms, and that source is solar farming.

House Bill 779, sponsored by Sen. Richard Stuart (District 28), represents a boon for farmers and an opportunity for us to help. This bill would encourage farmers to farm the sun by allowing them to produce power for their own needs as well as to sell power to other customers or back to their utility. Farmers would be able to use land profitably that might be otherwise unsuitable for traditional crops. Moreover, because the lifespan of a solar array is about 25 years, this predictable income stream could even out the financial uncertainties that come from weather-related or market fluctuations that can threaten their livelihoods.

Even better, support for our farmers benefits us, the ratepayers, because solar and other renewables are often cheaper than other electric generating sources. Besides cheaper rates, we will be promoting Virginia jobs and preserving our fresh and local food supplies.
 
  Please show your support for our farmers, for HB 779 and for Sen. Stuart by signing on to the Take Action page on poweredbyfacts.com for guidance on making your voice heard.

Karen Shaufeld

Leesburg activist and philanthropist

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