WASHINGTON – One day your land belongs to you, the next day it belongs to someone else. You didn’t sell it – the government took it and gave it away in the name of higher tax revenues.
It’s a scary thought for farmers and it’s been a growing concern since 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states and municipalities can take homes and businesses and redevelop them for higher-revenue-generating uses. This includes turning the property over to other private entities for their own economic development.
Bad news. Agricultural land near urban development is particularly vulnerable to the backlash of such a ruling and private property owners risk losing everything to more profitable entities, according to American Farm Bureau Federation literature.
Ohio Farm Bureau presidents took the matter to Washington last week, encouraging lawmakers there to support legislation that forbids eminent domain for any private use.
American Farm Bureau Federation policy opposes eminent domain for recreational purposes, private economic development or wildlife agency expansion.
U.S. Rep. Bob Ney agrees.
“I am totally against the use of eminent domain on a private individual,” the Ohio Republican told a group of his Farm Bureau constituents during a meeting. “It’s just not right.”
According to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation.
Farm Bureau members said when the court interpreted “public use” to mean “public purpose,” it put their land at risk.
In October 2005 the House passed a bill halting the use of eminent domain for private development. The bill is pending in the Senate.
Ney said a bill has been signed into law that prevents entities that use eminent domain for private economic development from receiving federal funds.
History. Concerns over eminent domain arose after the city of New London, Conn., tried to condemn privately owned homes in order to have the property transferred for a facility being built by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. The city took the action as part of an area revitalization under which Pfizer was expected to provide more jobs and tax revenue than existing residents.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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