Clinton County Ohio farm

Few laws are as reviled by landowners as the power of eminent domain. Farmers believe the government’s ability to take private property is an authority best used infrequently, said Leah Curtis, OFBF’s director of agricultural law.

“Generally we would oppose the government’s taking of farmland,” Curtis said while explaining Farm Bureau policy in a recent “Legal With Leah” podcast.

Government is empowered to take private property if it’s for “a public use.” And what is a public use? “That’s always the tricky question,” she said.

The definition of public use has been broadened to go beyond traditional uses such as roads, rail lines or utility pathways. Courts have ruled that in some cases, economic development also qualifies. If a government agency determines that a property would generate more taxes or a higher quality of life for the community, then that is also a basis for appropriating land. That power is limited; OFBF participated in an eminent domain overhaul that put restrictions on this type of taking under Ohio law.

In some cases, businesses can be granted the authority to take land. “Some private companies can use the power of eminent domain if they are putting in things like utilities that are generally going to benefit the rest of the community or the public at large,” Curtis said.

Pipeline construction in many parts of Ohio has landowners calling Farm Bureau for advice. Curtis said not all pipeline companies have the authority to do eminent domain. Questions over exactly which firms can use the power are currently being litigated in Ohio courts, and Farm Bureau is monitoring those cases.

Curtis said Farm Bureau policy on land takings is clear. “We would prefer that the government or anybody using eminent domain first try to purchase that property at a fair market price. And, generally we do oppose taking property for private use.”

In challenging a taking, the starting point often is to assess the necessity of the project. “Is this really needed, is this really going to be for a public use? That’s going to be the main issue the court is going to look at.”

Farm Bureau can help members understand the eminent domain process and point them to experienced legal counsel.

Curtis’ advice on whether landowners should get a lawyer involved early on: “Always.”

More Landowner Information

For further explanation of eminent domain and more information on other topics impacting landowners, Ohio Farm Bureau members can log in and download the Landowner Toolkit. Not a member? Join today!

Get the full list of landowner topics covered in the toolkit, with tips blogs for each in Ohio Farm Bureau’s Legal Information Series.

Also, listen to Legal with Leah, a podcast featuring Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of Ag Law Leah Curtis discussing topics impacting landowners.

Plus, hear a Town Hall Ohio panel discussion of various private property rights.

Ohio Farm Bureau membership

I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
Suggested Tags: