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Farmers fear loss of land as potential solar farm looms over Bynum

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Posted at 4:57 PM, Dec 12, 2022

BYNUM, Texas — Aaron and Tristen Walters are sixth and seventh-generation farmers in Bynum. Their family has grown corn, wheat, cotton and milo on the same acreage since 1886.

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"I had the opportunity to put solar on all our family land, retire and probably live very well, but my ancestors wouldn't want that," Aaron told 25 News. "I wouldn't want that. I am too passionate about what I do."

Aaron fears that passion might be taken away from him soon as the possibility of solar farms looms over Bynum.

"This renewable energy in this area has divided this community," he said.

The Bynum ISD School Board will vote this week on a tax abatement for the OCI solar project. That vote could potentially bring a large solar farm to the small town, meaning families like the Walters could lose portions of their land.

"This definitely has and will take out small and big farmers depending on the impact to that certain farm," Aaron said. "You have to understand at the end of the day, we all have bills. We depend on that farmland, not only to feed America but to pay our bills."

The Walters said this could have a devastating impact on not only them but also the community and even future farmers.

"If any of these crops were planted on this 2,600-acre farm I'm talking about, it equals 7,000 tons of corn, 6,000 tons of milo, 4,000 tons of wheat," Aaron said. "So you have now, just that one farm, taken that off the store shelves."

The Walters plan to attend the school board meeting on Thursday to encourage members to vote against the measure.

"Just young farmers coming in, there's a lot of young farmers trying to start and find smaller acres," Tristen added. "Without them, it's just going to be a smaller and smaller community as we go on in life."

25 News did reach out to the Bynum ISD school board, but there was no response to a request for comment.

"I don't know that they, you know the average school board member, really sees the reality of what this could do to our ag community," Aaron said.