NCBA: America’s Ranches Should Not Fall Prey to Money-Hungry Governments

WASHINGTON D.C. – Congress is acting to remedy a situation caused by a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave government bodies authority to condemn or convert property if commercial development of the property can yield a higher economic value.
calendar icon 18 May 2007
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In the case of Kelo v. the City of New London, the Supreme Court’s ruling upheld the authority of state and local governments to use eminent domain to seize private property for commercial economic development purposes.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has staunchly supported efforts in Congress to rectify the situation. NCBA urges passage of H.R. 926, the “Strengthening the Ownership of Private Property Act of 2007,” also known as the “STOPP Act.” The bill, reintroduced in the 110th Congress by Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.D.), is scheduled for consideration today in the House Ag Committee.

“The court decision is deeply troubling to anybody who believes in civil liberties and limited government,” says Colin Woodall, NCBA’s executive director of legislative affairs. “What happens when the government decides that a local community needs a strip mall more then it needs the farms and ranches that currently occupy the land?”

Ranches that exist in areas where development and tourism have swelled in recent years are most vulnerable. But NCBA insists the issue must be resolved at the federal level simply on principle.

“The Fifth Amendment was written to protect Americans from this type of action,” says Woodall. “It says ‘private property shall not be taken for public use, without just compensation.’ But how do you compensate a farmer or rancher when you take away the land their family has worked on for their entire life?”

Protecting private property rights is one of the founding principles of NCBA dating back to 1898. NCBA policy supports Congressional action to remedy the ill effects of the court ruling.

“We thank Representative Herseth-Sandlin and the cosponsors of this legislation for recognizing its importance to our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” says Woodall.

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