Survey Results Tabulated on Property Rights Concerns
By Shae Dodson
October 26, 2006
R-CALF USA’s Property Rights Committee is still in its infancy after members voted it into existence just this year, but the group hit the ground running by beginning work on issues such as eminent domain, conservation easements and water rights, along with surveying the organization’s membership to determine what related issues were at the forefront of farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns.
“We wanted more information from the R-CALF membership as to which direction we should go, so the Committee decided a survey was the best way to determine the property rights concerns and interests of our members,” said R-CALF USA Property Rights Committee Chair Kimmi Lewis. “The results will provide guidance to the Committee as to how those issues should be prioritized and where we should focus our volunteer efforts.
“The most glaring and most troubling result of the whole survey revealed that 98 percent of respondents thought that threats against their private property rights would increase in the future, while 95 percent agreed that government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) – often for environmental reasons – take an adversarial position against property owners and their rights.
“When asked if government had ever pressured or threatened one’s land rights or water rights, 35 percent of respondents said their land rights had been threatened, while 42 percent indicated they felt like their water rights had been jeopardized,” Lewis continued. “We also wanted to find out if our members ever felt like private entities had pressured or threatened their land rights or water rights, and 33 percent believed their land rights had been threatened, and 29 percent thought their water rights had been threatened.
“Just a meager 8 percent of the respondents agreed that city, county or state governments should have the authority to determine which land must remain in agriculture, and which may be developed, giving us the conclusion that government should not have the right to take land or take away private property rights,” she said.
“When asked whether R-CALF USA should pursue litigation when necessary and when it would be financially reasonable to do so, 85 percent of respondents agreed,” Lewis noted. “There were many additional comments, including which groups R-CALF USA might partner with to best advance the interests of cattle producers. Recommendations included conservative private property rights groups such as the Paragon Foundation, Stewards of the Range, and the Rocky Mountain Legal Foundation.”
“With this information and these tabulations, it is very clear that private property owners throughout this nation are extremely concerned about their future and their rights to own private property,” Lewis concluded. “The Committee would like to thank the R-CALF members who completed this survey, which gives the Committee direction on these volatile issues.”
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization and is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on both domestic and international trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has more than 60 affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.