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Group: Sheep not a 'bah'd idea for solar sites

While a political battle rages in New York state on green energy deadlines put forth by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, local groups have put up steady opposition to renewable energy projects, such as solar farms or wind turbines, in their towns and in their fields. Of all the beliefs that glue these individuals together, the loss of rural agriculture land high on the list.

Put simply: farmland should make food, not electricity.

But to this point, Caleb Scott, owner of Scott Land Yard Group and a founding member, as well as vice president of American Solar Grazing Association, has a proposition.

"The assumption is when you put solar up, you lose that agricultural land, and you don't," Scott said. "We can make that land more productive."

Scott said that because of solar, the land can be made to produce even more than it does now in terms of food production and calories grown on the spot.

"When I was younger, we had the dairy farm," Scott said. "But once I got older, I got into sheep farming and from there we saw the opportunity to expand our business using solar. We started grazing our sheep on solar."

Scott made a serious case in favor of allowing sheep to graze on land that is used for solar energy production. The vegetation diversity under the panels — growing with less direct sunlight — make for a variety of plants that can build a healthy sheep flock and is not available in a traditional pasture. Also, the panels can be used as shelters from the sun when it's too hot or when it's windy or raining, which helps prevent sickness amongst the animals and help them gain more weight.

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