The following commentary came from Sedgwick County Farm Bureau Agricultural Association president Mick Rausch, vice president Kent Winter and board members Peggy Hill, Jeff Winter, Mike Patry, Josh Seiler, Dean Lorenz, Mark Rosenhagen, Billy Metzen and Mark Bergkamp:
The leadership of the Sedgwick County Farm Bureau Agricultural Association is disappointed by Gov. Sam Brownback's recent action to impose a voluntary moratorium on wind-energy development in the Flint Hills. We are proud of this beautiful and historic region in our state, but we are not proud of a decision that would eliminate economic opportunities for landowners.
As the largest county membership in Kansas, our 11,865 farmers, ranchers and agribusiness leaders have played an integral role in developing Farm Bureau's grassroots, member-driven policy positions. Each year we pay attention to issues raised by our state resolutions committee, speak at district listening posts, review and update policy drafts and — with our peers from all 105 counties — vote for and approve resolutions that best represent our business and our way of life.
Currently, our energy policy supports the development of a statewide energy plan that promotes the use of renewable energy, tax credits and other incentives, as well as the expansion and development of transmission capacity, to create opportunities for alternative-energy resource development throughout Kansas.
Specifically, our policy supports and vows to protect the property rights of all landowners in areas developed for wind-power generation. The Sedgwick County Farm Bureau Agricultural Association believes siting guidelines and decisions regarding other potential zoning or restrictions are best made by state government after public input and comment.
This said, where was the input of state agencies in Brownback's decision to impose a voluntary moratorium? Didn't he speak about the promise of economic development during his bid for governor?
We endorsed his candidacy and believed in his stances on private property rights and financial growth for Kansas. He shouldn't let farmers and ranchers down because of pressure from groups that didn't support his election to our state's highest office.
Our policy also very clearly opposes the imposition of a moratorium on the production of wind energy in Kansas. No legislative or regulatory efforts should prevent agricultural producers from developing wind-energy potential. The pristine land in the Flint Hills is not owned by the state of Kansas, and those landowners did not "volunteer" to close the door on progress and future economic opportunities that keep cattle fed, crops sown and food on their family dinner table.
Brownback should reconsider the voluntary moratorium imposed on the Flint Hills region. Simply put, the decision is an infringement on private property rights. It derails economic development. It cuts out local, county and state government input on the decision process. It is offensive to farmers and ranchers who have survived both fruitful and challenging years, following in the footsteps of their ancestors to care for and honor the land that bears their legal name.