Because of some recent misinformation and miscommunication regarding the solar project on Sandy River Farm, LLC, the time has come for some clarification.

The discussion started in 2015 just prior to the sale of Horizon Organic Company, which had been our market since 2000, to Danone of France. Their policy prohibited farmers to sell any milk locally; we had been selling locally for many years. We received a termination letter shortly thereafter. We were given three short months to liquidate our herd of over 100 dairy cows.

After an extensive search, we were not able to find another milk market for our product. The soils on the farm side of the property are a Class 3 which is not suitable for row crops; Class 3 has severe limitations that reduce the choices of plants and/or require special conservation practices. Taking everything into consideration, the very difficult decision was made to lease to the solar project. This option simply seemed to be the best viable answer.

There were two other prominent reasons for choosing to partner with Solar: Maine’s goal to move to renewable power and the opportunity of bringing to Farmington a multi-million dollar source of tax revenue. This tax revenue would come from an out-of-state company with almost no cost locally.

This required the Farm to give up 85.2 acres of pasture, 12 acres of hay fields with the remaining in wooded land. The total land the Farm committed to the solar project is 300 acres. Of these 300 acres, approximately 45 acres is what will be visible from Rt. 2. The 500 acres on the west side of Rt. 2 will remain as productive agriculture.

One main misconception that has been circulating is that the Farm is the only landowner partnered with the solar project. This is simply not true. There are an additional five landowners that have committed over 200 acres as part of the same solar project as the Farm. To put this single project in perspective: it would take sixteen separate 30 acre solar sites located throughout the town of Farmington to equal the output of this solar project. Each of those 30 acre sites would require a separate connection to 3-Phase power lines. The size of this one project warranted the construction of the multi-million dollar Transfer Station on Rt. 2.

If the goal is to reduce the effect of fossil fuel use by switching to renewable energy, then this project makes logistical and technical sense. The size of the project may be extensive but the output of clean energy meets the goals of the State as well as brings in needed tax revenue for the town.

After farming for nearly 70 years, my age and health issues tell me that it is time to retire. As life-long citizens of this special town, we have always strived to enhance the area and especially the town of Farmington. Changes bring challenges, sometimes difficult ones, yet it is an inevitable part of life for everyone.

Although we are not permitted to share information relating to the project publicly, we will be as candid and transparent as possible.

Bussie York,

Sandy River Farms

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