Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Congressional Issues 2010
Property Rights

Missouri Farm Bureau

Kevin Craig - "Liberty Under God"

We believe that Farm Bureau should use its resources and expertise to persuade public officials or candidates to respect private ownership of property and the chain of title that guarantees the ownership of private property. Kevin Craig believes property rights are more important than "human rights."
We urge strict adherence to the Missouri "Private Property Rights" law which requires state governmental agencies to review and modify their proposed rules and regulations in order to prevent the further loss of private property rights. We favor passage of a similar bill at the federal level.  
If there is a loss in either market value or production capability of the land, the landowners should be justly compensated.  
A property owner should be allowed to have a cause of action against a governmental entity to recover damages if such governmental entity applies a statute, rule or regulation that reduces the use of the individual's property or the fair market value of the individual's property.  
We oppose the use of off-shore drilling fees for purchase of private lands.  
We oppose the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA).  
We support statutory fines for malicious, unfounded, or repeated false reports of environmental infractions. We oppose the improper use of environmental law to harass property owners.  
American Heritage Trust Act  
We are opposed to the American Heritage Trust Act concept which would establish a multi-billion dollar federal trust fund to acquire private land for recreational and other public use.  
The federal highway beautification law should be amended to include an agricultural exemption allowing billboards to be erected on agricultural property owned by an agri-businessman wishing to advertise his own business.  
Biological Resources Survey  
We oppose efforts by the Department of Interior or any other department or agency of the federal government to conduct a national survey of all biological resources, which we believe will result in further restrictions on private property.  
Eminent Domain  
The government acquisition of land and buildings should be severely restricted in cases where reasonable alternatives are available. We oppose the acquisition of land and buildings from an unwilling seller simply to keep development within a particular political boundary. MoFB is on track in these criticisms of eminent domain, but they do not go far enough. Eminent domain is wrong, even as it is found in the Bill of Rights. Government does not have the right to force a landowner to sell at any price but one to which the landowner freely and voluntarily consents.
We believe state statutes regarding the power of eminent domain should be revised to strengthen the protection of landowners from condemnation with assurance that needed rural infrastructure such as roads, power lines and water and sewer lines can be built in a timely and economical manner with equitable compensation granted to all affected landowners. We believe entities with condemnation authority should be required to consider alternate routes and to directly notify and publicly disclose routes for proposed right-of-way expansion to affected landowners. Eminent Domain

The Takings Clause

We oppose the use of eminent domain for the acquisition of land to be resold to private owners or for the transfer of property from one private entity to another for the purpose of economic development. We believe that easements acquired by an entity with condemnation authority should return to the landowner if unused after ten years. We oppose granting eminent domain authority to cable companies or any other entities that do not already have eminent domain authority.  
We believe eminent domain authority should not be used for purposes of private development or recreational facilities, and the term "public use" in eminent domain statutes and the state constitution excludes these purposes.  
We support further restrictions on the use of eminent domain to acquire blighted property in both urban and rural areas.  
We believe landowners in eminent domain cases should have five years from the time of the original settlement in which to negotiate claims for damage from construction and maintenance that may not have been confirmed at the time of the initial settlement.  
We believe that when it becomes necessary for any city to condemn private property outside the city limits, for any authorized purpose, the governing body of the city must first be required to obtain the approval of the county commission of the county containing such property.  
We support changes to the Missouri Constitution which promote our established policy on property rights. Furthermore, if deemed to be a valuable tool to that end, we support the use of a Missouri Farm Bureau initiated  initiative petition process to effect those changes.  
We support allowing an adequate period of time for Missouri's eminent domain reform law enacted in 2006 to be tested before pursuing further changes.  
Farmland Preservation  
The rapid and continuing loss of prime farmland to soil erosion and to residential, commercial, industrial, recreational and governmental use should be a concern to every American. Solutions to the problem must be found. But, as we seek solutions, we should remember that even though land ownership is a sacred trust, private ownership of property is the foundation for a free society, and public policies that unduly interfere with private property rights are a threat to our American democratic system.  
We believe any proposal to provide state funds for farmland preservation should be subject to thorough public review and comment and should protect the private property rights of participating landowners who enter into agreements to keep their farmland in production.  
The best way to preserve farmland is to allow the farmer to profitably farm by developing a combination of incentives and policies that will preserve and conserve his land, protect his rights as a landowner and allow him a reasonable return on his investment and labor.  
We therefore support:  
1. farmland assessments based on productive capability;  
2. abolition of all estate taxes;  
3. adequate and reasonable credit for farmers; and  
4. cost sharing for soil conserving improvements.  
And, we therefore oppose:  
1. excessive governmental rules and regulations;  
2. exclusive agricultural zoning;  
3. unnecessary governmental acquisition of farmland;  
4. exploitation of the "willing seller" covenant to justify farmland acquisition by public or private entities; and  
5. forced annexation.  
We oppose federal or state legislation that would deny, postpone or restrict the property rights of landowners without just compensation such as the Natural Streams Act, wetlands, endangered species act, railway and utility abandonment.  
We support an aggressive education effort to make landowners aware of the potential adverse consequences of land trust agreements and conservation easements .  
Fence Law  
We support the existing Missouri fence law.  
Heritage Corridors  
We oppose the Mississippi River Heritage Corridor and any other proposed Heritage Corridor and all their implications.  
We also oppose any other plan that removes or threatens the rights of property owners.  
National Trails Act  
We believe adjacent landowners should be given the first option to acquire abandoned rights-of-way. In addition, railroad rights-of-way, whether owned by the railroad or obtained by easements, should not be converted to any other purpose after the railroad company ceases to use the line for rail traffic. We oppose any federal or state law, such as the National Trails Act, which attempts to circumvent landowners' easement rights by using the abandoned line for some other purpose.  
If not repealed altogether, we believe that the National Trails System Act should be amended to allow only those abandoned railroad rights-of-way which have a realistic probability of being used again someday for a railroad be approved for interim use as recreational trails. The state or other organization which receives certification for interim trail use of an abandoned railroad must be held responsible for fencing, taxes, maintenance of the right-of-way, and other such costs which were required of the railroad and should also be responsible for compensating the owners of the right-of-way for use of the property easement.  
Property Easements  
We believe that when a property easement is no longer used for the purpose for which it was granted, or by the entity specific to the utility to which it was granted, that the full control of that property return to the landowner. All unused easements should have a sunset clause of no more than ten years.  
All easements should be returned to the landowner within one year after abandonment of its original purpose.  
Scenic Byways  
We support the promotion of tourism in rural Missouri, however, we believe all applications for scenic byway designations must be subjected to thorough public review and comment and should not be made without the approval of affected landowners.  
We believe that landowners in unincorporated areas affected by scenic byways proposals and corridor management plans should have discretionary authority to approve scenic byway designation.  
State Planning Commission  
We are opposed to the development of an appointed state land use and development commission to regulate the use of private property in Missouri.  
Streams and Road Beds  
We support enforcement of the Missouri State Constitution and statutes which would require the State Tax Commission to assess and tax abutting landowners for property between the discernible streambanks, other waterways, and easements to protect their property rights.  
We oppose the current interpretation of trespass on floatable streams which excludes gravel bars or the low banks. We support strengthening trespass laws to include gravel bars and the low banks.  

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