more than 14,000 copies are mailed primarily to livestock owners in twenty-two counties in southwest Missouri. These counties include Greene, Webster, Laclede, Stone, Dade, Dallas, Polk, Lawrence, Barry, Christian, Wright, Cedar, Taney, Hickory, Douglas, Howell, Ozark, Texas, Jasper, Newton, McDonald and Pulaski counties.
Although the site isn't Firefox friendly it is still worth a read. The current issue features a story on Bruce Blakemore, a Polk County Farmer/Songwriter/Singer extrodinaire. Bruce also happens to the owner of the little farm we're buying!
We'll be subscribing to the Ozarks Farm and Neighbor just as soon as we finalize our new address. It contains weekly columns from all aspects of farm life, from finance to veterinary issues. For example, here's an excerpt from this issue's "My side of the fence," the legal column by Jim Tucker:
These days as I count my last few bales of hay and hope for rain, I have an eerie feeling that I've been here before – the drought of the 1950s. It is not only hay supplies that are or have become critical, but also ground water seems to be drying up every place I look. Given this state of affairs I thought it would be a good time to visit a recent Missouri case that addresses use of a spring to water livestock.
The east boundary of Plaintiff's property joined real estate owned by defendants. A spring-fed stream originating on property lying northerly of the real estate owned by plaintiff and defendants flowed across defendants' property and to the west and onto and across plaintiff's property. Defendants constructed a dam along the path of the stream to fill two ponds they constructed on their property. The flow of water onto plaintiff's property ceased once the construction of the dam was completed and the water diverted into the ponds located on defendants' property.
There was undisputed evidence that the spring water had flowed continuously onto plaintiff's property before defendants constructed the dam and ponds. The stream had continually provided sufficient water for livestock kept on plaintiff's property. After the construction, there was not sufficient water on plaintiff's property for livestock. Plaintiff had to move livestock from that property due to the lack of water. Plaintiff testified that he would be forced to sell livestock unless the water flow was restored.
The rights of both of the parties in this case are derived from their status as what is known in the law as "riparian owners." A riparian owner is one who owns land that is either bounded by a watercourse or a body of water, or owns land through which a stream flows. Missouri law is consistent with the law of most states in the eastern portion of the U.S. where water has, for the most part, historically been plentiful. In fact, frequently the water in these states becomes too plentiful and flooding occurs. Thus the law has developed with the idea that a riparian owner has the right to the flow of the stream in its natural course and in its natural condition in respect of both volume and purity, except as affected by reasonable use by other proprietors. At the same time a riparian has the right to use reasonable means to dam or divert water to prevent it from flooding his or her property.
In this case, involving a substantial, if not complete and permanent disruption in the flow of the spring water, the court ruled that the dam had to come down. The court stated: "The use plaintiff was denied was to have water for livestock. Plaintiff had farmed and worked on the property from which water was diverted for 50 to 60 years. He had never known the stream to be dry or lack sufficient water for livestock during that time until defendants constructed the dam and ponds in question. Although defendants owned the bed of the stream where it crossed defendants' property, they did not have exclusive title to the water flowing in the stream, even while it was on their land."
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Jim Tucker is Of Counsel to the Springfield law firm of Haden, Cowherd, Bullock and McGinnis and farms near Willard, Mo.
I had no idea that the legalities of such things could be some complicated.
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