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Opinion: Standing up for private property rights is standing up for Missouri agriculture

  

As a first-generation farmer I know firsthand there is nothing more sacred to a farm family’s way of life than the freedom to make a living off the land they own without excessive government interference. Farmers believe in God, hard work, helping a neighbor in need, and the constitutional rights to live, work, and raise our families. As an elected official, it is my duty to listen when special interests threaten or abuse those constitutional rights, in particular efforts to subordinate private property to private corporate interests. This legislative session we can ensure commonsense takes precedence over nonsense. 

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe  (THE MISSOURI TIMES/ALISHA SHURR)

Fundamental and foundational property rights have been under attack in Missouri for years, and the consequences are significant. A private, investor-owned company has been granted the use of eminent domain to take land from Missourians in order to construct a for-profit wind energy, mega-transmission line that will pepper Missouri’s landscape with 150-foot super-structures. Fortunately, leaders in the Missouri House again acted swiftly this session to pass property rights protections sponsored by Rep. Mike Haffner.  The Senate has the opportunity to do the same with similar pro-farmer legislation carried by Sen. Jason Bean. Both bills safeguard private property protections and only address clear abuses of eminent domain by merchant transmission lines.

Without further legislative action, a multi-billion dollar corporation is poised to take over Missouri family farmland to build the 800-mile long Grain Belt Express, usurping the power of eminent domain and infringing upon the rights of countless Missouri farm families. Hiring lobbyists and litigating to move the regulatory goalposts is the corporate modus operandi, while our working farm families are sacrificing everything, including their land and ability to earn a living. 

HB 527 and SB 508 are conservative solutions to check government power granted to companies seeking eminent domain to build merchant transmission lines. Unfortunately, with government power and green energy promises, the debate has been hijacked to pit conservatives against each other over absurd claims that our farm families are preventing true progress and development. 

Conservative, pro-growth, pro-family policies drive the free market, but a government-dependent public utility, advancing an irresponsible corporate agenda, is the opposite of letting the free market work. In my experience as a small businessman, pro-business policies exist on their own merit and government should not be in the business of granting power to private entities to take private resources from our farm families.

Agriculture is the main driver of Missouri’s economy and our state’s number one industry. I am proud to be a farmer and stand alongside the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Landowners Alliance, Missouri Pork Association, the Missouri Soybean Association, and others this week in the Capitol calling upon the legislature to strengthen constitutional private property protections. Agriculture issues are Missouri issues worth fighting for and the green new deal of AOC, the Squad, and others on the liberal left are worth fighting against. I am glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with Missouri farmers and landowners.