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Everybody likes progress, cheap commodities like food, water and energy and nobody likes change. These are truths that can be bet upon time eternal regardless of what region of the country you are in. This is called the NIBY principle. Not In My Back yard.

Yet,  in order to achieve cheap commodities, quick access to what we want, infrastructure has to be in place. This year, BNSF railroad hauled nearly 1 million car loads of ag commodities across the country, with rail traffic into Minnesota , Montana and the Dakotas increasing by 31% in the last 5 years and outgoing traffic increasing b y 69%.  The oil production boom has something to do with  those numbers certainly.  All that traffic means more demand for existing rail space and the thought of more rail lines.

I doubt anyone is lining up to allow railroads to cut their fields up into smaller parcels. The same holds true for the Rock Island Clean Line energy lines. This project will deliver 3500 megawatts of energy from Northwest Iowa to Illinois and other eastern states over 500 miles. While many landowners will eventually give easements, others will not be swayed. We use eminent domain as a process to allocate between the rights of an individual and the needs of society for improvement and progress. This process is a lengthy one. In February , the proponents of the energy line asked the Iowa Utilities board to approve their concept and plan and then allow them to go back in to use eminent domain for the parcels that would not sell. This was not allowed by the board. If it had been, the leverage the energy line would have been able to bring to bear would be large. It is much easier to take away one parcel from the unwilling when all others have already given in and been paid. It is a far more difficult row to hoe when many parcels are not yet secured. Currently 1248 objections have been filed to the line and less than 15% of the proposed route has been secured via voluntary easements.

If you are presented with an easement proposal, investing an attorney who is familiar with real estate, farm operations and leases is critical. It appears that the easement proposed is very pro power line  company and not very friendly to the land owner. The damage provision appears to be skewed in favor of the power company and may not adequately protect your specific operation. You should consider how long construction may be on going and what it will do to your operation. While the wind towers went up very quickly, it is not projected that the power lines will be so quick. Consider a true  lock in on placement and the abandonment provisions.

Veal Calf Rules

The USDA is proposing a rule that will prevent the slaughter of all veal calves that cannot stand prior to slaughter. This will move veal calf slaughter rules in line with other production animals and will take about 15 minutes off of the inspection time for veal  calves as a 2d inspection for downed calves in currently worked into the process.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
  • Patrick B. Dillon
  • Jill Dillon
Dillon Law PC
Patrick B. Dillon enjoys finding solutions to legal issues and catching problems for clients. Pat practices in the Sumner office regularly represents clients in district, associate district and magistrate courts for agricultural, real estate, criminal and collection issues. He drafts wills and trusts, creates estate plans and helps clients through the probate process.
Dillon Law PC
Jill Dillon focuses on family law, estate planning and IRS matters. Jill is a University of Northern Iowa undergraduate (Political Science Cum Laude) and a Drake University Law School graduate. Jill spent extensive time advocating for low income tax payers in front of the IRS and the State of Iowa Department of Revenue while at Drake.

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