Letter – Solar boosts agriculture

Published 6:04 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As a former Marine, I care greatly about the future of this great country. I have taken the lessons I learned serving my country to help as many Americans as my skills allow.

I have worked extensively in project management in the construction and energy fields and own and operate Carrington Farm. Based on this experience, Carrington Farm has agreed to a “Grazing Contract” with AES for its Cavalier project and would be interested in partnering on the proposed Sycamore Cross solar project. The current agreement allows us to partner with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) to help provide farming opportunities to the next generation of Virginia farmers.

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For those who wonder whether solar power projects and agriculture can peacefully coexist, the answer is a clear “yes.” Through a partnership between Carrington Farm, AES, local farmers and the FFA, we are maximizing the use of the land and helping to expand the farming community for the future.

On the Highlander facility (an AES-owned and operated existing facility) Carrington Farm has taken the capital from the grazing contract and invested it directly into sheep operations so that the participating farmers have no input costs to managing the sheep herds. This year participating farms will take over 1,800 head to the market at a 95% profit margin. The typical margin for sheep farming is around 18%-25%. This year will be the single most profitable sale all three farms will have ever had in their entire span of operations.

Carrington Farm employees get a 30-head herd after a probationary period. They get to manage their individual herds on the facility under our grazing contract. This gives the young FFA employees the opportunity to learn how to operate a sheep farming operation and grow their herd to a size that can support their own family farms in as little as five years.

If approved, AES’ Sycamore Cross Solar project will not only help preserve our agricultural heritage, but it will also help broaden it for the future.


William Renaud