• Steve Eberly

This Land Is Your Land, This Land is My Land

As I sit here drinking morning coffee and reflecting a bit, the jolt of java brings several things to mind. I have attended countless discussion sessions, county level public hearings and read myriad social media posts regarding opinions on renewable energy and land use. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the OTHER guy’s property and what he or she can do with it.


But what’s missing from the rhetoric, many times, are simple facts: family farmland is owned by stewards who usually want to keep that property productive and valuable for future generations. Our county leaders need to remember that their role is to look out for their citizens and protect their rights – not stomp on them and limit how they can use what rightfully belongs to them.


Our farm, belonging to my brother and me, was named Eastview Stock Farm by our great-grandfather in the late 1800’s. The farm lies just east and south of undeniably the most productive, prime farmland soil in Indiana. But you know what? In our family’s mind, the land we own (which isn’t perfect for grain production) is as “prime” as it gets -- because it is ours!


Yes, you have to plan for the future, but let’s keep it in the hands of those who understand the sacrifice, risks, and rewards of leveraging the privilege of ownership into something useful and of value for their families and their communities.

Currently, Tipton County is attempting to put in place forced county mandates that erase the rights of farmers and landowners to do as they please in that northern Indiana county. While I retain the utmost respect for process in local government, the extent and magnitude to which this forced mandate strips away landowner’s rights are just plain wrong.


The situation in Tipton feels like a handful of “armchair experts” on land use making decisions about the property they don’t own, that they don’t use to produce revenue, and that they don’t pay taxes on. At issue is a vote on an “overlay district” that could effectively neuter the ability of a farmer to farm as he or she pleases.


Yes, you have to plan for the future, but let’s keep it in the hands of those who understand the sacrifice, risks, and rewards of leveraging the privilege of ownership into something useful and of value for their families and their communities.


I think we should be skeptical about the various designations that others overlay on to landowners. The land is our own “prime” land to pass on to our future generations that can only be maintained if we retain the right to determine how our farms will adapt to an ever-changing future.


One very important and potentially lucrative opportunity is to harvest the sun for energy production – something we see already in planning in Kokomo and Tipton, both for supplying energy to factories and for building out new transportation options for future drivers. Indeed, “farming the sun” is an opportunity we don’t want to see slip by for Tipton County farmers.


So whether it’s in an overlay district in Tipton County, a solar farm in Pulaski County, or what crop to plant in Warren County, the ultimate decision needs to reside with those that own the land. Our farmers know what’s best, they’ve done a pretty good job taking care of their land, we don’t need to start restricting them now.