The University of Maryland (UMD), Cornell University (CU), and the Oklahoma State University (OSU) are heading research on solar leasing on farmland to develop educational materials, including extension publications and legal education publications, on the economic, legal, and community issues associated with solar energy leases. With limited research-based information from the land-grant system to guide farmers and landowners on this critical issue, researcher/extension specialists frequently contacted for assistance. Our interdisciplinary team will conduct research and develop a publication with practical tips for attorneys related to solar energy contracts, focusing on three states with large solar farm legal issues in the Mid-Atlantic, Southern Plains, and Northeast, but including information useful throughout the country. Our approach will give rural communities and landowners the information they need to navigate emerging opportunities and potential conflicts associated with large renewable energy projects on farmland. To achieve the goals of this project, UMD, OSU, and CU were awarded nearly $500K by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
To facilitate the understanding of utility-scale solar development on farmland to empower rural landowners, rural communities, solar developers, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions that work for their needs.