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Sample Trade Magazine Article: Compiled for Thrive, a quarterly magazine produced by Syngenta Crop Protection for agricultural retailers and distributors to update them on Syngenta products and services, and to provide them with the information they need to succeed. 

Purpose: Today’s growers have long been committed to protecting the environment. However, the constant pressure to increase food production creates a juggling act for growers, retailers and suppliers. This article focuses on how retailers can guide their customers in balancing the demand for more production while promoting sustainability. 

Project Earth: Implementing a Common Vision for Sustainable Ag
By Darcy Maulsby

From population growth to limited land resources to climate change, the coming decades will challenge global agriculture and put demands on the environment like never before. As a result, growers will be looking to their retailers to help them match environmentally sound products and services with their production systems.

“Although every farmer and retailer thinks about protecting the environment for all the reasons we read about, it’s even more important for those of us in farm country,” says John Hester, owner/manager of Nichols Agriservice, LLC, in Nichols, Iowa. “We live in the area, we drink the water, we breathe the air, and so do our children and grandchildren.” 

Growers need trusted advisors like you to help guide them through today’s complex business decisions with environmentally sound crop production. And so do you. 

“I need people I can trust, too, so I speak with my Syngenta representatives almost every day,” Hester says. “They understand my needs and the issues affecting growers in my area.” 

With long-term strategies such as ongoing investments in research, a strong commitment to sustainable agriculture and a Customer Center staffed by Ph.D.s with years of experience, Syngenta maintains a history of environmentally friendly solutions for its retail partners and growers, says Jennifer Shaw, director of stewardship for Syngenta. “Environmental sustainability is not a fad that’s going away. It can be challenging to help growers make decisions that promote high yields and, at the same time, fit with environmental sustainability, but society demands the right balance.” 

Making Sustainable Commitments

This issue is reflected in the growing number of companies that are making a renewed commitment to sustainability. For example, in May of 2008, the H. J. Heinz Company announced a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2015 through practices such as using potato peels to generate energy and reducing packaging. For its agriculture division, the company has set specific goals of reducing its carbon footprint and water usage by 15 percent each, and improving yields by 5 percent with hybrid tomato seeds that require less water, fertilizer, pesticides and fuel to harvest. 

Syngenta is part of an effort by the Keystone Center, a nonprofit organization that specializes in facilitating scientific and policy outcomes, to establish appropriate sustainability metrics that make sense for production agriculture. The group has agreed to the foundational principles that global food demands, grower needs and desirable land-use patterns all require intensification of agriculture, and that increased production must be accomplished in a manner that does not negatively affect, and actually improves, overall environmental and societal outcomes.

Keeping Growers Informed

Making this goal a reality starts with a commitment to keep growers informed in today’s rapidly changing ag industry. As part of its conservation tillage practices, Wisconsin’s Landmark Services Cooperative, the Agricultural Retailers Association’s 2007 Ag Retailer of the Year, continues to expand its investments in root zone banding (RZB) operations. 

“Here we deep place nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus while doing zone tillage,” says Jim Shelton, agronomy division manager, who notes that Landmark has also expanded its precision ag grid sampling and variable rate technology (VRT) applications in the past five years. “When the grower no-till plants back into the row where we placed the nutrients, this greatly reduces soil erosion while maintaining yields comparable to conventional practices.” 

Nichols Ag hosts meetings throughout the year to provide the latest information on conservation tillage, nitrogen management and other timely topics. “Farmers don’t want to put on more fertilizer or crop protection products than their crop needs, especially with the price of today’s inputs,” says Hester, who invites university extension specialists, crop scouts and other experts to speak. “While farmers want to do everything they can to protect the environment, they want scientific facts, not fiction, to guide their decisions.” 

That’s where Syngenta can help, says Shaw, who notes that the company is a long-time supporter of many research-based, field-tested projects, including the Delta Farmers Advocating Resource Management (F.A.R.M.). Focused on the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta region, Delta F.A.R.M. helps implement environmental stewardship best practices in agriculture to improve and protect water quality and other natural resources. (See related article, page 24.) 

Syngenta also has partnered with a number of organizations to promote environmental stewardship, including California’s Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship (CURES). This group supports educational efforts for agricultural and urban communities that are focusing on the proper and judicious use of pest control products. In the Midwest, Syngenta has supported the Illinois Buffer Partnership, which showcases the voluntary efforts of farmers and landowners in the planting, maintenance and enhancement of conservation buffers to improve water quality, control soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.

“These partnerships help provide growers and retailers with the facts on the best practices that will work for their situation,” Shaw says. “Furthermore, they highlight how environmental stewardship can make great business sense by gaining operational efficiencies and knocking down barriers that impact freedom to operate.” 

Applying the Lessons Learned

Retailers can play a key role in helping growers focus on sustainability, Shaw notes. Although retailers can’t control the decisions a grower ultimately makes, they can explain how specific crop protection products fit into production systems like conservation tillage or no-till, provide tips on reducing spray drift, and offer recycling or refilling services for crop protection packages. 

“Our records show that in many cases, nearly 60 percent of all nutrients applied have either been at the wrong rate or in the wrong place,” says Shelton, who notes that Syngenta offers a great portfolio of crop protection products that allow customers to utilize reduced or no-till in their farming operations. “With today’s high-priced plant food, a grower who applies just 8 percent of his or her nutrients in the wrong place has just paid for a ‘full-boat’ GPS/VRT program.”

And retailers can do more than just advise. Nichols Ag, for example, takes empty crop protection containers, both from the company and from area farmers, to a collection point for recycling. 
Producers appreciate these resources, says Terry Cain, a grower from Kirkpatrick, Ind. As a committed steward of the land, Cain believes it is possible to protect the environment and be a productive grower. “We have to make sure that we growers and the companies that provide products and services to us are being good environmental citizens,” says Cain, who scouts his fields regularly and makes timely applications if disease is present. 

Although government agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist growers with their efforts to protect the environment, there’s no substitute for a retailer who understands how farmers think, knows their soils and farming practices, and can offer valuable input beyond the standard advice to follow product label instructions, Hester says. Landmark, for example, is involved with nutrient management planning (NMP) for its farmers who wish to expand their livestock operations. “We have a number of dedicated staff who are highly qualified to do comprehensive NMP, a time-consuming process that cannot be done overnight,” Shelton says. 
As interest in environmental sustainability continues to grow, it’s important for retailers to embrace these changes and view them as opportunities rather than threats, Shaw adds. “Ultimately, the goal is to promote products that benefit growers without harming the natural resources that they and others rely on.”


Micro-Encapsulation Benefits Crops, Growers and the Environment 

Often it’s the small details that make a big difference in protecting the environment and overcoming challenges. More than 20 years ago, Syngenta made tremendous technological strides in the control of unwanted insect pests with lambda-cyhalothrin, the active ingredient in Warrior II with Zeon Technology® insecticide. Since the original formulation was an emulsifiable concentrate, the pyrethroid insecticide chemistry was dissolved in solvents. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency highlighted toxicological concerns regarding solvents, Syngenta researchers found new ways to reduce the amount of solvents in the company’s crop protection products. 

Since 1995, Syngenta has relied on micro-encapsulation technology. Thirty of these tiny capsules, which could be compared to the gel caps that contain over-the-counter medications, can fit within the diameter of a human hair, says Roy Boykin, technical brand manager, insecticides, for Syngenta. One of the challenges of micro-encapsulation, however, is the speed of release of the crop protection product contained inside. 

“Since the speed of release dictates the speed of knockdown, Syngenta has patented new technology that allows a speedy release of the active ingredients in our micro-encapsulated products,” Boykin says. “This unique Zeon Technology® allows growers to use the products to deliver performance equal to an emulsifiable concentrate, but it also permits a reduction in solvents and in handler and non-target exposure.”

This spirit of innovation remains a priority for Syngenta. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to improve product efficacy while protecting the user and the environment,” Boykin concludes. 

Sample Trade Magazine Article: Tree Care Industry Magazine, "Assessing and Treating Flood-Damaged Trees"

Purpose: technical article written for a trade publication targeted at arborists, urban foresters, landscapers, golf course superintendents, and property managers. 
Assessing and Treating Flood-Damaged Trees
By Darcy Maulsby

Lime green tape wrapped around utility poles along many main streets in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, marks the height of the water from last year’s massive flooding that damaged and destroyed countless trees. In some places, the tape is as high as 25 feet, serving as a stark reminder of Friday, June 13, when the Cedar River crested and inundated hundreds of tree-lined city blocks, spreading well beyond the 500-year floodplain and forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents. More than a year later, however, trees remain one of the untold stories of this worst natural disaster in Cedar Rapids’ history. 

As the river flooded out a mile wide in some areas, trees contended with high concentrations of toxins in the waterlogged soil. “When basements and garages flood, gasoline cans, used oil, acid leached from batteries and antifreeze from submerged vehicles can enter the water that’s covering tree roots,” said Brian Jay, district manager for Davey Tree & Shrub Care, a Tree Care Industry Association accredited firm that has been assessing flood damaged trees in Iowa City, Iowa, south of Cedar Rapids. “When this toxin-tainted water stands for weeks at a time and ‘strangles’ the tree by cutting off oxygen to the roots, there’s a total change in the tree as root tissue is lost.” 

In addition, flood scum that caked on leaves blocked sunlight, essentially suffocating the trees by preventing them from photosynthesizing. In some cases, trees were completed washed out of their planting holes, or they were knocked down by debris. To make matters worse, a bitterly cold winter finished off more trees already weakened by the flood. Species such as oak, birch and pine were among the hardest hit.

When the heavy equipment moved in to clean up when the waters finally receded after several weeks, soil compaction further added to the trees’ woes, and some trees were damaged beyond repair. “Many Iowa communities, included by Cedar Rapids, that were affected by last year’s disasters are still in the basic recovery process,” said Karen Brook, a program manager and field coorinator with the non-profit Trees Forever organization based in Marion, Iowa. 

Diagnosing post-flood damage 

How much damage a tree sustains during a flood depends on a variety of factors, said Dr. Jesse Randall, an Iowa State University (ISU) Extension forester, who listed the following considerations: 

  • What species is the tree? In the Midwest, for example, silver maples, ash, cottonwood and locust trees—species that evolved in floodplains—can survive better during flood conditions and recover much more quickly than upland trees like oak and hickory, which are very sensitive to flooding.
  • How fast did the flood water came up, and how long did it stay? Flash floods, where the water rises and falls in a matter of hours, are much less damaging to trees than longer-term floods, where the water rises slowly and lasts for days or weeks. 
  • Was the tree stressed before the flood? A strong, healthy tree will have a much better chance of survival than a tree that was weakened before the waters rose. 

Flooding can impair a tree’s defense mechanisms and trigger biochemical responses that release carbohydrates, sugars and other nutrients which seem to invite insect and fungal pathogen attack, added Jeff Iles, an ISU Extension horticulturist. A group of fungi called the water molds, including Phytopthora and Pythium, can attack trees only when the soil is saturated or nearly saturated. Fungal spores swim through the soil water and invade the tree, causing the roots or crown to turn brown and become wet and decayed. The first indication of damage may be yellowing or falling leaves, dieback of limbs, or failure to leaf-out in the spring. Another group of fungi causes cankers on branches and trunks of weakened or stressed trees. 

Both water molds and canker fungi are most damaging to flood-intolerant tree species planted on poorly drained, clay soils or sites flooded for prolonged periods. Their effects may become apparent immediately following the flood or may appear several years later. 

Stem-boring insects such as phloem borers and wood borers are major insects of concern following a flood, Iles said. Phloem borers damage portions of the tree responsible for food and water transport. Wood borers feed within the wood of tree stems and branches, causing them to weaken and break during ice, wind or snow storms. 

Assessing treatment options

Minimizing additional stresses or injuries should be a priority on high-value trees for one to three years after flooding to reduce increase the trees’ vigor, reduce the chance of attack by insects and allow the maximum chance for natural recovery, said Iles, who added that very little is known about the effects of long-term flooding during the growing season on many ornamental tree species. 
Vertical mulching with an air spade can offer an effective way to get more oxygen to tree roots, said John Griffiths, director of plant health care for Wright Outdoor Solutions in West Des Moines, Iowa. Some arborists fill the holes with pea gravel, while other arborists leave the holes open. Griffiths, a board-certified master arborist and member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, has tried both options and can’t see that one method is better than the other. One thing that won’t help flood-damaged trees very much is fertilization, he added. “Some people really promote this, but in our experience, it’s just a bandage for a much bigger problem.” 

Trees developing substantial dieback and decline symptoms should be removed from the landscape immediately. While dead or severely cankered branches should be removed as soon as possible, other corrective pruning should be delayed until the late dormant season. It’s important to keep an eye on flood-damaged trees for a period of years, said Griffiths, noted that arborists dealt with flood-damaged trees more than six years after the massive floods of 1993 inundated central Iowa. If a tree starts to show signs of decay and there are targets nearby, such as a sidewalk or playground, it’s time to talk to the client about tree removal.

“While nothing is black and white when assessing flood damage to trees, my job is to look at the puzzle, try to put the pieces together and give the client all the information I can to help them make the best decision,” Griffiths said. 

Planting hope

So far, Trees Forever has raised more than $50,000 to help fund grants and provide technical assistance for Midwest communities damaged by the flooding and the devastating tornados that hit parts of eastern Iowa shortly before the flood. 

“There’s a huge need for tree replanting, and we want to help people come together, re-green their communities and revitalize their neighborhoods,” Brook said. 

The success of this strategy was clearly visible than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, where early tree and flower plantings in destroyed neighborhoods boosted morale. In Cedar Rapids, tree replanting is occurring from the Helen Nassif YMCA and Hayes Park to the Taylor School, an elementary school in the heart of the city that was closed for the 2008-2009 school year due to flood damage. 

As the replanting proceeds, Trees Forever is encouraging residents to focus on species diversity, from Kentucky coffee trees to London plane trees to Freeman maples, and consider trees that are appropriate for low-lying areas where flooding could occur again. It pays to re-evaluate appropriate tree choices, especially since the risk of emerald ash borer has made a once-popular, hardy tree choice a vulnerable option, Jay said. “While the likelihood of a flood of this scale happening again may not be high, it can make sense to plant bald cypress, swamp oak, cottonwoods or silver maples in wetter soils,” he noted. 

As always, limiting a tree’s risk exposure is an important part of successful tree care, added Jay, who classifies flood damage in the same category as drought, due to its impact on plant health. “While a flash flood is nothing to a tree, it takes 10 to 12 years to rejuvenate a tree’s root system to the point where it was before a major flood.”


Dealing with Disaster:
Arborist Offers Lessons from the Flood

Whether a community is devastated by a flood, tornado, hurricane or other disaster, a professional arborist can play a key role in helping residents recover.

“This is the time to build trust, not make a fast buck,” said Kyle Palmer, president and CEO of Palmer’s Tree Services, LLC, a Manchester, Iowa, company that is helping eastern Iowa clients recover after the 2008 floods. “Unfortunately in Iowa, anyone with a chainsaw can call himself an arborist, and when there’s a disaster, these people come out of the woodwork. As tree care professionals, however, we have the ability to be the varmint or the savior.” 

Palmer offers these top five tips to serve clients more effectively:

1. Watch and wait. In a flood, tree roots will start to weaken due to the saturation of the ground, and the pressure of the flood water will also push on the tree roots. Check a tree’s root structure and look for raised turf to spot signs of partial uproots. While some unscrupulous “tree services” have been telling eastern Iowa clients that all these trees must be cut down immediately, removal isn’t the always the solution, Palmer said. “Although we’ll see flood-related cases of tree deaths in the next few years, you don’t have to take down a tree down right away if there’s no immediate danger. People who have been through a disaster have already suffered many losses, and removing their tree right away can be one more painful loss. Why not wait and see what happens to the tree? Then determine if removal is the only solution.” 

2. Educate the public. Since many people have strong emotional attachments to their trees, give clients aid and advice first. Determine the tree species, take soil samples and research what options might be available to help the tree, if immediate removal is not required. “Clients will think the world of an arborist who tries to help them save their tree, and they will tell others, which is a definite business booster,” Palmer said. 

3. Take a little extra time. While a disaster creates a massive workload for arborists, avoid the temptation to rush through each job. Instead, invest the time to communicate clearly each client, answer his or her questions and build trust. “People who have suffered losses in a disaster are very vulnerable, so take the extra time to comfort them and assure them that you’re there to help,” Palmer said. 

4. Protect yourself and your clients. A simple contract will protect both the arborist and the client, who may not think clearly in the wake of a disaster. When a tree fell on a man’s house, for example, the client immediately wanted the arborist to remove the tree, Palmer said. A few days later, however, the man went to the local hardware store and figured out how much it would have cost him to rent the equipment needed to remove the tree. “When the total was half of what the arborist charged, the man was angry because he felt like he had been ripped off, even though he didn’t bother to count the cost of the arborist’s labor and other expenses,” Palmer said. “That’s why you should always get an agreement in writing.”

5. Always be ready to help. When tornadoes hit various communities near Palmer’s area in 2008,he helped clear the streets for no charge before the winds had completely died down. This allowed the power company crews and rescue workers to provide much-needed aid more quickly. “It’s one more way professional arborists can set themselves apart and provide a valuable service,” he said.

Sample Trade Magazine Article: Pork Magazine "Eminent Domain Sparks Property Rights Debate"
Purpose: technical article written for the business magazine targeted at professional pork producers.

Eminent Domain Sparks Property Rights Debate

By Darcy Maulsby

If a city or a development corporation wants to seize your land and turn it into a shopping mall or office park, could you stop them? The Connecticut eminent domain case Kelo v. City of New London that made headlines nationwide this past summer has raised serious questions about private property ownership for rural landowners.

While some ag-law experts feel the case could prove detrimental for agriculture, others don’t see the decision as a major threat.

“There’s a big reason to be worried about this, and agricultural land is particularly vulnerable,” says Julie Anna Potts, general counsel for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The case marks the first time the U.S. Supreme Court has used economic revitalization as a reason to use eminent domain, notes Eldon McAfee, legal counsel for the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “The Court broadened the definition of public use. There’s concern now that pork producers can be lumped in with all private property owners whose property can be taken for economic development. My experience has been that communities rarely see agriculture as economic development.”

When the city of New London, Conn., presented a plan to revitalize its economy, officials proposed using eminent domain to take several homeowners’ properties, even though the properties themselves were not blighted nor in poor condition. (See the sidebar for more details.)
In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments could seize property for public use even if the sole purpose is for economic development.

“A lot of people have tried to make political hay out of this issue, but from my perspective there isn’t anything unique about the ruling,” says Neil Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. “The Supreme Court followed precedence and made it clear that eminent-domain issues involve state property law.”

Earlier cases redefine the standards

The U.S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment contains the eminent-domain clause, which states, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Kelo v. City of New London represented the first time in more than 20 years that the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving the question of whether a public use exists when private property is condemned and transferred to private developers, says Roger McEowen, an associate professor of agricultural law at Iowa State University.

He cites two cases that illustrate the Court’s willingness to expansively define “public use.” In 1954’s Berman v. Parker, the Court upheld the District of Columbia’s use of eminent domain to develop slum areas for possible sale to private interests. “The purpose of the act in question was to improve areas of Washington, D.C., that were ‘injurious to the public’s health, safety, morals and welfare’,” McEowen says. This case established a precedent for eminent domain being applied beyond a public road or park, adds McAfee. “In Justice O’Connor’s dissent on Kelo v. City of New London, however, she argued that the justification for eminent domain wasn’t as strong as in the 1954 case, because the New London case did not involve a blighted area with public-health issues.”

In 1984’s Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, the Court upheld Hawaii’s use of eminent domain to take titles from landlords to reduce the concentration of land ownership resulting from a historic system of land oligopoly. The Supreme Court’s opinion confirmed a state’s ability to use eminent-domain power to transfer property outright to a private party, so long as it’s related to a “conceivable public purpose,” McEowen says.

“People are calling the Kelo v. City of New London decision outrageous, but it’s 51 years too late to be saying those things,” McEowen adds. “The decision is based on precedence. I don’t agree with the opinion because I think it’s wrong, but the Court was wrong in 1954, too.”

Taking action in agriculture

Agricultural producers who might feel the effects of the Supreme Court’s recent decision the most are those already on the fringe of urban sprawl, agree ag law experts. “Since most pork producers are located in rural areas where eminent-domain use has been fairly rare, the ones who would likely be most affected are those on the edges of more urban areas,” says Rich Schwartz, the National Pork Producers Council’s legal counsel.

Experts do disagree about the “just-compensation” component of the eminent-domain law, which says property owners must be paid a fair price if their land is seized. “This has always been problematic, because agricultural land doesn’t always get fair compensation,” says Potts.
McEowen takes a different viewpoint. “Cities don’t want to waste a lot of money on lawyers’ fees, so I think farmers will get pretty much what their property is worth if it’s taken through eminent domain.”
While there’s always a chance a community could try to use eminent domain to drive out a neighboring pork production unit, it would be a precedent-setting case, Schwartz adds. “Theoretically a city could argue that a shopping mall or office complex could be more valuable from a tax standpoint, but I think it’s unlikely we’ll see eminent domain used in this way. If it were, it would give the courts a lot of trouble.”

The Supreme Court won’t allow local governments to exercise eminent domain based on a pretext, AFBF’s Potts adds. “This means a community can’t use eminent domain against a swine farm because it’s not viewed as a good neighbor. However, there’s no real check on this. All a community has to do is use a development plan that documents how eminent domain will benefit the community, which can include bringing new jobs to the area and generating more tax revenues.”

McEowen doesn’t believe pork producers should spend much time calculating how much their operation contributes to the local tax base. Instead, he urges producers to get involved when developers propose new plans in their area. “Attend local board meetings, detail your concerns, and show that there may be a better way for the community to manage this development.”
Being proactive is the key, Drake’s Hamilton adds. “Producers need to be involved in the land-use planning and decision-making process all along. By the time you get a notice that your land will be taken, the plan has been in the works for years. I think the courts will hold it against you if you didn’t get involved before then.”

Working through lawmakers

Don’t overlook the legislative process, either. “The real fight now is to convince your state legislature to restrict your state’s use of eminent domain,” Potts says. “I urge producers to support ag groups that will lobby legislatures to protect agriculture.”

The Supreme Court emphasized that state law authorized the Connecticut eminent-domain case, McAfee notes. “In Iowa we’ve had a law since 1999 that protects agriculture from being condemned for development purposes.” Section 6A.21 of the Iowa Code states, “Public use or public purpose or public improvement does not include the authority to condemn agricultural land for private development purposes unless the owner of the agricultural land consents to the condemnation.”

Federal lawmakers also are taking action in response to the Kelo decision. Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) joined Representatives Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) and Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) in late July to introduce the Strengthening the Ownership of Private Property Act. 

“This appalling [court] decision strikes a serious blow to the core values of our nation and has far-reaching implications,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “In defining public use so expansively, the Court erased any protection of private property as understood by our nation’s founders.”

The STOPP Act will prevent governments from taking property from one private party and giving it to another private party. When abuses occur, the STOPP Act will prevent localities and states from receiving federal economic assistance on all economic-development projects, not just those upon which abuses occur. The legislation also will make state and local governments subject to the Uniform Relocation Act, which provides fair-market value and moving expenses for citizens relocated by abuses.

In the end, producers need to realize that eminent domain can be used in more ways than one, and some options may prove beneficial. “Agriculture could find itself on the other end of the table, for example this could occur if eminent domain is used to acquire land for agricultural development areas,” Hamilton says. .

Setting Eminent Domain in Motion

Kelo v. City of New London dates back to 1998, when the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced it would develop a $300-million waterfront global research facility in New London, Conn. Local planners hoped Pfizer would draw new businesses to the area and boost the area’s economic rejuvenation.

As a result, the city created a private development corporation to revitalize areas around the new facility and granted the corporation eminent-domain powers. The corporation then filed proceedings against the plaintiffs (including homeowner Susette Kelo) in an attempt to condemn their homes, some of which had been in families for more than a century. The property would be used to create an office park, a parking lot and a new public park.

In response, the homeowners initiated a civil action, charging that the city’s delegation of its eminent-domain power to a private entity was unconstitutional.

“The Connecticut Supreme Court held that economic development was a constitutionally valid public use because the legislature had determined that taking the land was reasonably necessary to implement a development plan that increased tax revenue, created jobs and improved the local economy,” says Roger McEowen, Iowa State University agricultural law associate professor. 

In late June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling in a narrow 5 to 4 decision, stating that the city’s use of eminent domain qualified as a public use.

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