By Matt and Kim Brenneman
Iowa, the land of the Midwest, the soils of the Greater Mississippi Basin are our nation’s wealth, our most powerful asset, because of its high quality. This soil-rich region of the world is only one of three, the others being Ukraine and a region of South America, but our dynamic nutrient-rich soil is the largest contiguous piece and includes the mighty rivers that transport the produce of our nation’s wealth to market.
Iowa and the Midwest are one of the richest places on earth. We are the center of the world’s power, production and the accumulation of capital occurs here, because of the soil. The soil of Iowa and the Midwest, and how you value and care for it, is your legacy.
Land is a tangible gift for your legacy. It is said that throughout history, there are three indicators of wealth: land, cattle and gold. Many Americans can trace their family tree to European feudal times, when our forefathers had no land and no power. They were told where they could grow food, what to grow, where they could hunt, where or when they could travel, where they had to live, where to go to church. People belonged to the local “Lord of land.”
Land must be wisely managed
Land is a powerful and significant natural resource. Wise management enhances land; it encourages production of food and stewardship of wildlife. Land stewardship requires soil erosion preventive measures, amendments to keep and build its fertility, and management of pests and invasive species. To conserve its value and improve its quality, land management requires thoughtful decision-making for a beneficial legacy.
Converting agricultural and wildlife areas to the use of industrial wind turbines irreversibly destroys the land. It is a debt of destruction. The construction of turbines removes enormous amounts of soil as “waste,” affects aquifers, water flow, tile lines, soil erosion, soil compaction, air pressure and current. In essence, it is destruction of the best soil in the world, the farmland that the generations before us were proud of and left for us to use to feed the world. Timber and wetlands are degraded and fragmented, affecting the habitat and ecosystems of wildlife. Industrial wind turbines add to the ecological debt, with no regard to the enormous value of soil.
Beware of land easements
Easement contracts are another debt left as a legacy. Easements give away the land-use rights for 30-plus years. The companies that hold the leases may use them as collateral, whether they are utilizing the easement or not. Construction companies may file a lien against the landowner when the easement owner does not make payment.
If the company is no longer in existence at the end of the easement agreement, or when the turbine is no longer functional, the landowner is responsible for decommissioning. The debt of an easement contract is a heavy load for your legacy; do not sign an easement or a “good neighbor agreement” with a wind energy company.
Your people care about you as a person, your story, mentorship and leadership, not a dollar figure or a certain number of acres. Choose your legacy wisely. Your land is worth working for, preserving, protecting and fighting for because it is what ensures that future generations eat and have choices in life.
The Brennemans are seventh-generation farmers, farming near Parnell in Iowa County. Kim can be contacted at email@example.com.