MO farmers testify in support of ’eminent domain’ bill

Missouri Farm Bureau president and farmer Garrett Hawkins has testified in favor of a bill that would protect farmland from eminent domain in the case of utility infrastructure. He testified before the Missouri Senate ag committee this week.

Peggy Whipple, attorney for the Grain Belt Express – which plans to build wind energy transmission lines across farmland in north central Missouri – testified House Bill 2005 violates the U.S. constitution and Missouri case law, “Which affirms the primary authority of the Missouri Public Service Commission and I’m going to quote now, ‘that transcends municipal or county lines to insure uniformly safe, proper and adequate utility service throughout our entire state.’”

Under the bill, the utility corporations would have to provide the Missouri Public Service Commission with a resolution of support from the county commissions of each county impacted by a merchant line. It would require at least 150% of fair market value for ag and horticultural land in condemnation proceedings.

David Carpenter whose family farm is in northern Missouri also testified in favor of the bill, “It strengthens the heritage value for property owned by a family who have owned the property more than 50 years. My family has owned our farm for over 200 years.”

Carpenter says they have very strong emotional ties to their land and value it very highly. He says he also likes the bill because it requires advance approval from county commissioners before Public Service Commission consideration.

“This level of county commission authority could have prevented the eight years of struggle between land owners and the GBE people.”

Invenergy, the company behind the Grain Belt Express, has said eminent domain would be used sparingly and as a last resort.

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