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Mills surveys Michigan farmers, finds wind turbines have positive impact on landowners

November 17, 2016

Sarah Mills of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy surveyed more than 1,200 farm landowners throughout 14 townships in Michigan to find out how farmers are impacted by wind energy turbines on their land. Mills found landowners with wind turbines reported significantly more positive outcomes than their neighbors.

In sum, farmers with turbines on their property invested twice as much money in their farms over the last five years and were more likely to have bought more farmland, be optimistic about their future, and believe in the benefits of wind turbines.

In “The concrete benefits of wind power for farmers,” a report on Mills' survey for the American Wind Energy Association's Into the Wind blog, Greg Alvarez says, “Wind energy is a drought-proof cash crop for farmers and ranchers, providing steady income … $222 million in lease payments in 2015 alone.” Rural communities face deep economic development challenges, he writes, “but wind power is providing an important boost to agricultural America.”

Mills' research was also cited in "Wind energy plays a part in making America great" by Kelley Welf for the Morning Consult. Welf predicts that because rural voters propelled Donald Trump to the presidency, Trump will enact policies that focus on those people. And studies like Mills' show that "continuing to grow wind power is one of the best ways to help these folks." 

Mills’ survey data can be accessed in her summary of results: “Farming the wind.” A full project report is forthcoming and can be requested via email at [email protected].

Sarah Mills is a postdoctoral fellow with the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy. She serves as project manager for the Michigan Public Policy Survey, supports the National Surveys on Energy and Environment, and is continuing research on the impact of wind energy policy on rural communities