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Silent leadership is unacceptable

By Staff | Jan 16, 2015

To the editor,

I’m a long time Iowa Farm Bureau member and active at the local level because this organization, I felt, had the most potential and power to protect the rights of individual farmers.

Unfortunately, the past 18 months of effort to engage IFB in our battle to protect private property rights has revealed a “dark side” suggesting some decisions are influenced by, not surprisingly, money.

IFB’s annual meeting was held a month ago and once again it refused to support the private property rights of its members.

The distinct possibility exists eminent domain could be used by private companies in Iowa, if granted permission by the Iowa Utility Board, to force literally hundreds if not thousands of landowners to sell perpetual easements.

These easements are open-ended allowing ingress and egress any time and any place including those cutting through the center of farms.

The proposed Bakken Pipeline carrying crude oil from North Dakota cuts diagonally through 17 counties in Iowa to refineries in the south.

The proposed Rock Island Clean Line overhead transmission line carrying direct current electricity from 2,000 yet-to-be-built wind turbines and converter plant in O’Brien County cuts across 16 different counties in Iowa going to a yet-to-be-built converter station outside of Chicago for yet-to-be-determined customers.

IFB is opposed to the use of eminent domain by private for-profit companies. The path of RICL is entirely on private property – almost all farmland – following no previous easements and impacts 1,540 individual land owners.

RICL has, after 1 1/2 years of negotiations, managed, at last count, to sign less than 15 percent voluntary easements.

Apparently the possibility of ED being forced on over 1,300 private landowners has no bearing on the IFB strategy of letting the present process work its way through the IUB without supporting those of us fighting this unconstitutional use of ED.

Last August the IFB Energy Advisory Committee, dominated by members with a financial interest in wind energy, met with a representative of RICL and DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol plant.

The committee issued this statement about RICL: “Committee members are in support of the project’s goals …” despite the fact at least two of the members have invested in wind turbines and one has a wind turbine on his farm. This is unethical, if not downright criminal.

Contrast the inaction of IFB to that of the Illinois Farm Bureau which supported Block RICL efforts from the opening bell supplying assistance with their lawyers, lobbyists and political power.

IFB is willing to “sit on the bench” until the game is over because the leadership is confused about the term “grassroots organization.”

The grassroots effort was contaminated by a few zealots wielding an inordinate amount of power influenced by their financial investment in wind.

Leaders lead. The indiscriminate use of ED is a clarion call for action by any individual or organization dedicated to private property rights of private citizens.

The deafening silence of IFB leadership about RICL and Bakken says volumes about this once proud organization and its leaders.

There are two possible reasons – ineptitude or corruption.

Neither is acceptable.

Jerry Crew


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