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There is a common myth infiltrating our news and Legislature — that landowners oppose any infrastructure project that would impact their land.

The truth is that landowners, like most Montanans, are very interested in keeping our state as healthy and economically productive as possible. In fact, we are businesspeople ourselves. We just want honest business dealings that are fair.

We landowners want to have our rights protected and to be treated respectfully. If someone wants to negotiate a business agreement to purchase an easement on our land for a project, then we expect a reasonable agreement.

We should not have to take on the liability of a project that we are not profiting from. We should not be forced into taking an unfairly small amount of money for our land. We should not be forced into a "deal" that will hurt our operations when it impairs our ability to use that part of our land for agricultural production. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Montana, after all.

Private companies want to take our property and are trying to change Montana law through the legislative session to make condemnation easier for them. If the Montana Legislature passes any of the proposed laws that expand the power of eminent domain (House Bill 198 being the worst of them), they will set a new precedent that degrades how landowners are treated. They will allow private companies to condemn other people's property when no public need exists and private profit is the only motivation.

Darrell Garoutte

Wolf Point

and Sandy Barnick

Glendive

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