Let me tell you about my dot.

My parents bought this farm in mid-1950 and began farming and raising cattle. Our family moved to the farm in 1959 and built a new house on the land in 1964. This “place” has been our home for nearly 60 years. Our livelihood continues to be farming and raising cattle. This work has been passed from generation to generation and cannot be moved to another location or replaced with another vocation. My father and grandfather went to war to fight for our freedom. One of the freedoms that they fought for and so many others died for was the fundamental right to own property and not to “…be deprived of his property except by authority of law.” How does corporate greed equate to the authority of law?

Today, my farming operation extends over three properties: I own two and rent one. The proposed transmission line would cross all three. As with any business, this land is used to maximize production. We have farm land that is most appropriate for crops and pasture land that is best suited for cattle. Many do not realize that farming has become technologically advanced. We have concerns about the GPS equipped tractors and ramifications from a 345,000 volt powerline hanging over head while planting, maintaining and harvesting crops. This high dollar farming equipment assists us in obtaining the best possible crop yield. The inability to navigate these huge machines around poles would take a large swath of crop land out of production, further reducing crop production. If we cannot maximize the use of this equipment, then it erodes away our bottom line. In the pastures, the proposed line would hang directly over the ponds which are the only sources of water for our cows and calves. Soil compaction is a further issue we would face since the proposed line would diagonally cross one tract of land. Construction damage is inevitable. Whether it be crop production or grass yield for cattle, the soil would never regain its maximum production capability if the line is built.

Missouri ranks among the top states in the nation for agriculture and agricultural-related businesses. Missouri ranks 2nd in the U.S. for the largest number of farms[1], and is ranked 6th in the nation for overall cattle production[2]. In 2015, cattle and calves brought in over $2 billion in cash receipts to the state.[3] My cattle operation and the operations of other farmers and cattlemen like me throughout the state contributed to this ranking. You may say, “well, this is only one small farmer or a few small farmers, it won’t make a difference.” Well, it will. Missouri’s ranking is based on cattlemen and farmers like me who make their living raising and selling crops and cattle. If this transmission line is allowed to move forward, what is to stop it from plowing across other farm and grazing land with the same potential hazards? What will stop the unbridled use of eminent domain power, regardless of the effect on innocent property owners or impact on the state’s agriculture industry?

How can a for profit company have the power to condemn our land and take away the lives we have built upon generations of hard work just to make themselves even richer?

This is not right.

This is my dot.

This could be your dot.

 

[1] Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, MO Department of Economic Development April 2016.

[2] The Cattle Range All Cattle & Calves Compiled from USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service Data January 1, 2017.

[3] U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Charts and Maps about Your State, MO 2015.