Institute Attacks Whitman Call For State Control of Open Space

Washington, DC, January 21, 1998 — The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) blasted Governor Christie Todd Whitman’s (R-NJ) plan to lock up one million acres of New Jersey farmland, which she announced in Tuesday’s inauguration address. Farmers and other rural residents will be hardest hit by this plan when the value of their land plummets due to state controls on the use of their property.

“It is not the role of the state government to ‘control development’ of private property. Governor Whitman wants to set aside 300,000 acres of farmland, increasing that to one million acres in the next decade. Well, who owns that land? What right does Governor Whitman have to determine what someone else can do with their own property?” commented Jonathan Tolman, Deputy Director of Environmental Studies at CEI. Little mention was made of the owners of this farmland in the speech and whether or not their opinions about what to do with their land would be taken into consideration.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) announced it will soon be releasing a study about the American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the status of farmland and food production in the United States. The study, Mandarins and Money: Taking Private Land for Private Interests – The Agenda and Policies of the American Farmland Trust, illustrates how the AFT has been distorting national land use trends to encourage government control of private property. AFT claims wrongly that U.S. farmland is disappearing, and threatening to cause food shortages. CEI’s new study cites data from the U.S. Bureau of Census refuting that claim, and demonstrating Americans have nothing to fear.

CEI has worked for nearly fifteen years to preserve and strengthen property rights. “Rights of Americans are being trampled every day by the federal and state governments,” stated Emily McGee, Director of Public Relations, CEI. “An invented crisis, such as a shortage of farmland, provides a convenient excuse for states and the federal government to impose coercive land-use controls on private property.”

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government. For more information or to obtain a copy of the study, contact Emily McGee at 202-331-1010.