|By ANN HINCH
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Perhaps of most interest to Tennessee farmers, Rep. Joe Fowlkes’ House eminent domain bill (see related article) states “under no circumstances shall land used predominantly in the production of agriculture” be considered blighted property ripe for the taking.
This is a provision not already addressed in state and local governments’ exercise of condemnation power. It was just last year, in fact, at Tennessee Farm Bureau’s (TFB) behest, that the General Assembly legally defined agricultural land and products – a definition which does not rely on zoning laws.
“Clearly, someone who’s got a one-acre plot with a couple of goats on it is not going to meet the definition of ‘agricultural,’” said Rhedona Rose, a TFB lobbyist.
The specific statute is an addition to Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 1-3-105, and states “agriculture” is as follows: “The land, buildings and machinery used in the commercial production of farm products and nursery stock; the activity carried on in connection with the commercial production of farm products and nursery stock; and recreational and educational activities on land used for the commercial production of farm products and nursery stock;
“As used in this definition of agriculture, the term ‘farm products’ means forage and sod crops; grains and feed crops; dairy and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including breeding and grazing; fruits; vegetables; flowers; seeds; grasses; forestry products; fish and other aquatic animals used for food; bees; equine; and all other plants and animals that produce food, feed, fiber or fur;
“As used in this definition of agriculture, the term ‘nursery stock’ means all trees, shrubs or other plants, or parts of such trees, shrubs or other plants, grown or kept for, or capable of, propagation, distribution or sale on a commercial basis.”
While limiting eminent domain powers might seem particularly important to those who make their living off the land – certainly there have been conflicts in the past between city and country residents – Rose noted, “This one is not really shaking out as a rural-versus-urban issue right now.”
This farm news was published in the April 12, 2006 issue of Farm World.