by Robert John Stevens, April 13, 2017
Suppose you buy land in the country to enjoy more space and fresh air but years later a farmer buys 40 acres next to you and builds a mink farm. Countless flys fill your home and barn, the air both inside and outside stinks of mink feces, you see dead minks lying in feces piles, and minks literally terrorize and attack you or your spouse.
You’re not alone—Your neighbors all experience the same horrors.
This is exactly the situation in Payson, Utah where dozens of neighbors rallied and testified at the April 11, 2017 Utah County Commissioners Hearing to consider farmer Beckstead’s petition for agricultural protection.
Farmer Beckstead knows his minks are damaging the property values of his neighbors and making their lives miserable so he applied for agricultural protection to use the force of government to protect his interests from nuisance laws.
Whose rights are violated? Clearly the neighbors were there first. If farmer Beckstead loved his neighbor as Jesus taught, would he pollute their air with the smell of mink feces?
Farmer Beckstead lives in Lehi about twenty miles to the north—Unless his families’ noses lost their ability to smell, he knows better than to live at his mink farm and suffer like his neighbors.
Minks aren’t just pets that have learned to happily co-exhist with humans—they are vicious, angry aggressors who sometimes carry rabies and other diseases. Children won’t know that so when they see one on a nearby school playground, they’ll gather around and try and touch it and pick it up.
Will agricultural protection protect Farmer Beckstead from lawsuits?
Neighbors report seeing minks all over their lands. Even if Farmer Beckstead could contain his minks, he can’t contain the smell that lures incoming minks looking for their own species and mates.
One man explained how he lost a fortune developing nearby one-acre parcels because after the mink farm was created, buyers lost their appetite.
Farmer Beckstead has the right to farm as long as he doesn’t violate the rights of his neighbors but since he obviously had and plans to continue to do so, he sought for agricultural protection. Rather than repeatedly break the Golden Rule, he could sell his mink farm today for a profit into Utah County’s strong real estate market and buy land far away from others.
The Utah County Commissioners heard but ignored the neighbors’ highly emotional complaints and ruled in favor of farmer Beckstead. After repeated, unsuccessful appeals to Payson and Utah County government, will the neighbors persist, give up and play dead or will they eventually defend their liberties and inalienable rights with violence as the Declaration of Independence authorizes?
My family and I lived in Highland Utah, about a mile from a mink farm. Driving by the farm we always noticed the putrid smell. As more residents moved in, opposition grew. Because of the united angry citizenry, the farmer was finally asked to leave.
Utah County Commissioners should have known better than to favor Farmer Beckstead who clearly violates the rights of his neighbors and grant him special agricultural protection. This issue will not go away; instead, it will just get worse as the population of Payson increases.
Citizens don’t care about Utah County’s hundreds of pages of regulations, especially when they contradict their built-in conscience that tells them to love their neighbor as themselves and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I think very highly of all three Utah County Commissioners, enjoy watching them grow in their callings, and consider Bill Lee a very good friend so I recommend that we all re-read Ezra Taft Benson’s 32-page masterpiece, The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner.
April 11, 2017 Utah County Commissioners Hearing
PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER APPROVAL OF THE PROPOSED BECKSTEAD AGRICULTURE PROTECTION AREA APPLICATION, WITH THE UTAH COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS MODIFICATION REQUEST TO EXCLUDE THE ROAD RIGHTS-OF-WAY WIDTHS FROM THE PROPOSAL, REDUCING ACREAGE AND REQUIRING A VARIANCE; APPROXIMATELY 40.028 ACRES LOCATED IN SECTION 7, T9S, R2E, IN THE WEST PAYSON AREA OF UNINCORPORATED UTAH COUNTY