Monona County says "no" to ditch crops - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Monona County says "no" to ditch crops

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ONAWA, Iowa (KTIV) -- A handful of farmers crammed into the Monona County Courthouse this morning, all anxious to know why the county wants some of their crops cut.

The farmer's crops are growing along ditches on county property and according to state law its illegal.

For years, 25 acres of Baynard Willey's soybeans have been grown in ditches, but this year, they lie in ruin.

"It's like taking a ten percent pay cut," says Willey.

Willey's cut down his beans and now he's mad. That's because he's no longer allowed to grow crops in the ditch.

"Fathers and fore fathers have done it this way. We had a supervisor one time that said farm those right of ways so we don't have the issue of maintaining them," says Willey.

It's a debate raging across Monona County, Iowa. Farmers were given ten days to remove crops from ditches and officials say farmers should have been expecting it.

"This was on the agenda six times and we had nobody show up for it to discuss it, I mean everything from a public hearing to passing the county ordinance," says County Engineer David Carney.

Ripped up crops are the real meat of the issue. Farmers have had to cut down part of their crop right before harvest season and county says that's because they are in the right of way.

The county cites a state law, saying for drivers' safety crops need to be cleared 33 or sometimes even 63 feet from the center of the road. If farmers don't, the county will, and hand out a $500 dollar fine, even 30 days in prison.

"We looked at it as it was going to be a little different in the culture of how we were doing things down here, but I think we saw it as being a positive change for the county," says Carney.

Farmers like Willey aren't buying the safety concern though. They say if it's an issue why haven't weeds and trees lining the ditches been cleared?

"They are asking us to mow off crops and they haven't done their obligation," says Willey.

"We're not required to mow it, if a person wants to keep it more maintained then that, they are more than welcome to do additional mowing in that area," says Carney.

 Monona county says if farmers want a change, talk to their legislators. They say they're just messengers in a debate that's cutting safety concerns and profits.

Baynard Willey and some of those farmers met with the Monona Board of Supervisors, Tuesday.

They're in talks to create a meeting between officials and farmers to discuss the issue, set for late November.

Online Reporter: Forrest Saunders

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