Ken Wunderlin

Since 1970, Ken Wunderlin has been a dairy and grain farmer in southwestern Wisconsin. Today, he and his family have almost 400 acres across three different tracts. But, like many farmers, Ken is concerned about what low commodity prices mean for future income generation.

In a letter to the editor in his local paper, the Dodgeville Chronicle, Ken talked about the challenges of farming and how solar farms are good economics for both farmers with solar on their land and other farmers who keep land in production. Here’s what he had to say:

Solar farm should be option
Dear Editor:
In 1973-74, we received $3.00 a bushel for corn. Now the price is $3.25-$3.50 a bushel. There is too much corn and soybeans being produced today to be profitable. In 1980, we received $13.80 per 100 lbs. of milk – today it’s $15.80 per 100 lbs. of milk. There is too much milk being produced to be profitable.
Land owners are being asked to take less for rent, because of these low prices. We need less production of these commodities to raise prices, so it becomes profitable for dairy and grain farmers. Then, they can pay the rent land owners should be getting for their investment in their land.
The land used for solar farms will have natural prairie grasses planted on it to preserve the soil for future generations. When the solar farm is decommissioned, the soil will be there to be put back into production again.
Overproduction is making farming difficult. Tax payers are now paying to take land out of production through CRP (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program). This is an opportunity to take land out of production with no cost to tax payers.
Solar farms produce clean energy. They will help reduce the overproduction of dairy and grain to help make remaining farmers more profitable and help reduce the need for CRP – therefore helping tax payers.           

Ken and his family are excited about hosting solar panels on their land as part of Invenergy’s proposed Badger Hollow Solar Farm. By producing a new crop of renewable energy, they will be able to stabilize farm income while opening up new opportunities. Ken’s son, Shawn, plans to join the family farm full time to branch out into custom farming, and they’ll still have enough land to feed their cows. The solar lease will allow them to make the choices that work best for their family, keeping their interests first, while being part of America’s energy future.