To the Editor:

Let’s talk Turkey. Wild Turkey Bourbon to be specific.

Why Bourbon? Bourbon requires a 51% corn mash bill, and Western New York produces a lot of corn. What else do we produce corn for? Well, we create food and it is used to produce ethanol, the industrial alcohol used as a fuel additive.

This is an important point for everyone in our community. Farmers are in the business of converting the sun’s energy into a resource. This may be crops that feed our children. It may be ethanol to power your car. It even could be used for the bourbon that “fuels” your next party.

Now we have the option to harvest electricity.

My family has owned the Byron farm since the early 1970s and is well into its third century farming in Western New York. I see little difference in producing energy using solar panels or growing corn for ethanol. In many cases, it is a more efficient use of the land’s potential.

The best farm operators might get 200 bushel of corn per acre. Many do not achieve this goal every year because it requires a lot of things to go right. From rain at the right time, but not too much, to favorable market prices, to equipment running smoothly and the availability of labor. The stars need to align to meet that level of production. If they do, netting $1 per bushel after costs, or $200 per acre, is possible. This is not a lot of profit to pay taxes and generate enough return to stay in business.

If there is a more profitable crop that allows us to honor our land, to sustain our families and farm business into the future we have and should continue to evolve.

In my lifetime many crops have been attempted to be grown profitably in Byron: beans, peas, cabbage along with the more typical corn, wheat and alfalfa (hay). I see solar farming as just another long-term crop like planting a fruit orchard. It avoids having to rely on the production of a gasoline additive. It sets the stage for a future where we just plug in our cars – like I do today. And, it allows us to continue growing corn for bourbon.

Now that’s talking Turkey!

Richard Colby


Johnson Newspapers 7.1