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Cedar Summit Farms could be forced to relocate due to power line expansion

Cedar Summit Farms wants power companies to pay more to re-establish its organic farm
Cedar Summit Farms wants power companies to pay more to re-establish its organic farm
Photo from http://www.facebook.com/CedarSummit

It should be no surprise that running an organic farm is difficult. Cedar Summit Farm in New Prague has been running an organic operation since 1974, so it knows a little something about it. But Cedar Summit is now facing a new threat that goes beyond the usual vagaries of farming: A measure is under way to make use of an old eminent domain law that could see Cedar Summit moved from the land the family has owned since 1926, due to the expansion of the state's power grid. 

The initiative is called CapX2020. It's a collaboration between 11 of the state's utility companies to increase the state's power supply to keep up with increasing power demands. What makes things difficult for Cedar Summit is that the efforts are using a law on the Minnesota books called "Buy the Farm," which requires power companies to buy affected farm land if requested by the property owners.

Val Milnar, working the thresher at Cedar Summit Farm in New Prague
Val Milnar, working the thresher at Cedar Summit Farm in New Prague
Photo from http://www.facebook.com/CedarSummit
This may seem fair on the onset, but this causes a particular problem for Cedar Summit, due to the nature of its organic and grass-fed practices. While it stands to receive "fair market value" for its land, the payment required by the power companies does not necessarily cover the costs of converting land from a traditional farm environment to one that meets certified organic regulations. For land to be certified organic, it has to remain pesticide-free for three years. The power companies are allegedly fighting efforts to have to pay further funds to help the relocation of certified organic farms.

Cedar Summit Farm is seeking public support to help amend the "Buy the Farm" act to allow for an increase in relocation benefits.

According to their petition page on Change.org, "A conglomerate of power companies, including Xcel Energy locally, is building an upgrade to the power grid that will add roughly 800 miles of high-voltage power lines throughout Minnesota," and that, "because those lines will be high voltage, Cedar Summit may be forced to move from the 185 acres purchased by Val Minar in 1926."

They go on to further explain that, "The Buy the Farm amendment provides participating farms with 'fair market value' for the property in question.  While the law also provides for 'reasonable moving expenses and other relocation benefits,' the wording is unclear, and the power companies are fighting this measure." 

While Cedar Summit acknowledges the growing power needs of the state, it also states potential health concerns. It recognizes that relocation might be a very viable option, but that it cannot support the expenses to re-establish the transition on their own.

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Cedar Summit Farm

25830 Drexel Ave.
New Prague, MN 56071


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