Ohio Farm Bureau seeks eminent domain reform in the Buckeye State  

Ohio Farm Bureau members are seeking additional landowner protections including eminent domain reform.

Brandon Kern, the senior director of state and national policy, says the organization is promoting legislation to reform the eminent domain program in Ohio.

“At the basis of what we’re trying to do by reforming the system is really to create a fair, more streamlined and easy-to-use system for the landowners,” he says. “Right now, if you want to challenge land that’s being taken using eminent domain in the state of Ohio, there is a complex and convoluted legal process that you have to go through. There are lots of hoops to jump through and you have to hire legal experts to help you do those things.”

He tells Brownfield there is an existing eminent domain system they’d like to see the state adopt.

“There is a system that has been adopted in almost every other state in the country that has a more streamlined approach for landowners. We want to replicate that and bring that to Ohio. We’re one of the few if not the only state that doesn’t have this one-stop-shop for landowners being able to challenge eminent domain takings within the same court system,” he says.

Ohio Farm Bureau says its message to legislators is: Ohio needs eminent domain reform that protects private landowners; the current eminent domain system is burdensome to landowners; the law should recognize and address the unequal footing in lawsuits; and the law should strike a balance between needed public development and respecting private property rights of landowners.   

Kern says eminent domain is tied to other issues related to farmland preservation.

“We’re talking to lawmakers about development pressure coming from a number of different fronts whether it’s energy site development, housing stock being built, or manufacturing facilities being built. All of those things are good economic drivers for the state, but we’re talking to policymakers about doing it smartly. It has to be based on smart growth instead of just haphazardly because every time we develop prime farmland, we’re taking that out of cultivation permanently.”

More than 300 Ohio Farm Bureau members met with state senators and representatives at the recent Ag Day at the Capital.

Kern says the annual event connects legislators with how policy debated in the statehouse impacts producers.

“Ohio Farm Bureau members have an opportunity to talk about how those policy issues truly impact their farming operations back home. As an organization we have great professionals who do advocacy work on behalf of our members on a day-to-day basis here in Columbus and Washington D.C. but that can never replace the personal stories and the perspectives that our members themselves can carry and connect the dots for policymakers about how those policy initiatives impact operations back home.”

Brownfield interviewed Kern during the event in Columbus.

Audio: Brandon Kern

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