Washington, DC – This week, Representatives Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) and Kelly Armstrong (ND) introduced the Landowner Easement Act. This bill would prohibit the Department of the Interior (DOI) from entering into a conservation easement lasting more than 50 years. It would also give owners of existing easements the option to renegotiate, renew or buy out the easement.
“This legislation would end the permanent land grab while providing a mechanism for landowners to resolve easement disputes, giving growers the ability to protect their property from federal bureaucrats,” said Congresswoman Fischbach. . “I thank my colleague, Congressman Armstrong, for his support and look forward to ensuring that the private property rights of the people of Minnesota and North Dakota are protected.”
“Our legislation will put the power back in the hands of farmers and landowners, giving them the ability to renegotiate or buy out U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service easements created before 1977. I am proud to work with Congresswoman Fischbach to end this the practice of permanent easements and give North Dakota growers the tools and flexibility they need to make informed conservation decisions,” said Congressman Armstrong.
This bill also has the support of corn producer associations:
“The Minnesota Corn Growers Association is pleased to support the Landowner Easement Rights Act introduced by Representatives Michelle Fischbach and Kelly Armstrong. This legislation is important to protect private property rights by ensuring that government easements are transparent, impartial and temporary while adequately compensating landowners and preventing them from being effectively deprived of the full fee simple value of their property. The legislation is based on a bipartisan bill introduced in the last Congress and we thank Representatives Fischbach and Armstrong for their good work.
“The North Dakota Corn Growers Association commends Representatives Armstrong and Fischbach for recognizing that the wetland easement process has been fraught with difficulties from day one. This legislation will strengthen farmers’ ability to control the future of the land they live on and protect it for future generations. It would be a great tool to advance the private property rights of our producers.
It also benefits from the support of farmers directly affected by these easements. Richard Syverson, a grain farmer from Minnesota’s 7th District, said, “As a farmer who has issues with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), I fully support the Landowner Easement Rights Act. The farmers I spoke to never intended to sell the rights to their land indefinitely. By capping easements at fifty years and providing the ability to challenge the existing agreement, this bill will allow the USFWS to focus its efforts on lands that actually harbor wildlife and mitigate conflict with farmers over fully agricultural land. This allows for the achievement of long-term conservation goals without an easement that exceeds the planning horizon of a human lifetime.
Michelle Fischbach is a wife, mother, grandmother, attorney, and the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District. Receive updates from Representative Fischbach’s Congressional Office on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
–Representative Michelle Fischbach