Farmers making final push for property rights amendment
October 12, 2012
RICHMOND—With just a few weeks left before Election Day, Farm Bureau producer members in Virginia are putting on a full-court press in support of Question 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The proposed amendment to Virginia’s constitution would lock in current private property rights laws concerning eminent domain, or the taking of private land for public use.
“Sometimes when eminent domain is necessary, the government comes in and takes land, and they may pay you a fair price for your land,” said Wayne F. Pryor, president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “But if they mess up the use of land behind it, or mess up a road or mess up a bridge, this constitutional amendment will make sure that they have to pay for what they mess up, as well as what they take to use.”
Pryor’s comments can be viewed on a video blog called The Real Dirt on the VFBF website at VaFarmBureau.org. Farm Bureau is part of a coalition of agriculture and property rights groups that have been supporting the amendment for seven years. It’s been a long road to get the amendment to the ballot, Pryor said, including getting it passed in identical form in two consecutive sessions of the state legislature.
The amendment would incorporate current law into the Virginia constitution, ensuring it would not be easily changed, according to Trey Davis, VFBF assistant director of governmental relations. “Basically it states that private property may only be taken under eminent domain by government or utilities for public use, excluding any possibility of land being condemned for private benefit,” Davis said. “It also requires just compensation to landowners—not only for their property, but also for lost economic opportunities if the taking limits their other business practices. And it prohibits taking any more property than is necessary for the public project.”
Contact Davis at 804-290-1017 or Norm Hyde, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146.