Property Rights Panel Discussion Held During Watertown Winter Farm Show

South Dakota Farmers Union hosts “How You Can Protect Your Property Rights” panel discussion during the 2024 Watertown Winter Farm Show, February 7 at 2 p.m. at the Codington County Extension Office, Classroom B (1910 W Kemp Ave.).

During the panel discussion, property owners will learn about surveying and condemnation/eminent domain process and how to advocate for property rights.

“This is an important topic for property owners to learn more about because it’s your land. And if private entities can take your land for personal gain, what is next,” asked Spink County Commissioner Suzanne Smith.

Smith is among the panelists speaking on the property rights issue which has been top of mind for many South Dakotans. Spink County Commission is one of only a few in the state to proactively establish ordinances related to carbon pipelines.

“Our commission wanted something in place to protect citizens’ property rights – this is our job as local government. It’s no different than writing ordinances for wind towers or solar farms or CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations),” Smith explained.

Smith encourages citizens to call upon their County Commissions to do the necessary legwork to protect landowners through ordinances. During the panel discussion she will answer questions about the Spink County ordinance.

Smith is joined on the panel by Brown County farmer Craig Schaunaman.

Schaunaman serves on the board of directors for South Dakotans First Coalition. According to their website, South Dakotans First Coalition is, “dedicated to safeguarding and upholding the property rights of individuals against the encroachment and profit-seeking actions of corporations.”

“The biggest thing landowners need, is a level playing field. South Dakotans First does not believe eminent domain can be used for private gain,” Schaunaman said.

A fourth-generation farmer, Schaunaman and his brother, Kirk were among the many South Dakota property owners whose land was surveyed, without landowner permission, by Summit Carbon Solutions. Summit Carbon Solutions did receive court-ordered permission.

Although surveying for the CO2 pipeline ended when South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denied Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator’s pipeline permit requests, Schaunaman and Smith say the battle for property rights in South Dakota is far from over.

Advocate for your property rights

Currently, the South Dakota State Legislature is reviewing several bills that could impact the future of property rights in South Dakota. During the February 7 discussion, Schaunaman will provide an update.

“Whether the carbon pipeline does or does not go through South Dakota, we know this is not the last time we will have private companies looking to use our land for their gain,” Schaunaman said. “Property owners need to take the time to educate themselves so they can make educated decisions that will protect their property rights. And urge the legislators who represent them to do the same.”

To learn more about the South Dakotans First Coalition, visit www.southdakotansfirst.com.

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