From the New Republic, on Amish signing leases with energy companies:
Miller is physically imposing—stout and broad-shouldered—but also painfully timid. When pressed on what his neighbors had earned, he gazed for a long time at Edna, who, with one of their daughters, was chalking the outline of a man’s pantleg onto a bolt of wool rolled out on the table. “My wife and I took turns kicking each other in the butt.” He paused for a long while. “Our ten dollars an acre compared to $1,000.”
Indeed, many area farms had leased for thousands. Even by a conservative calculation, the couple said they had missed out on a $79,000 signing bonus. (Kenoil declined to comment). Several times, they have felt the sting of their mistake, as during last year’s drought, when a decimated corn crop forced them to buy extra feed for the milking cows, costing thousands of dollars. The Millers have also tried to undo their misstep. Around the beginning of 2011, Lloyd presented his lease and his story to a lawyer, who said that by telling the Millers that $10 an acre represented the best deal available to them, the agent had committed fraud. He told Miller he could take Kenoil to court. “But I said, ‘Hey, that’s something we don’t do,’” Miller said. “He’s got to live with his conscience.”
This story on Amish dealings with energy companies has been out for around a week now, but if you haven’t read it, it is an interesting look at the issues involved. The article draws attention to the idea that Amish traditionally do not sue, which I wonder how many people don’t realize (I suspect a good chunk of the public does not).
It also points out cases in which Amish were in fact involved with lawsuits, and describes some of the ways they do involve themselves with the legal side while stopping short of full-fledged suits (such as affidavits and declaratory judgments). There is also this important bit:
Not that every Amish farmer is looking for a payday. Dale Arnold, the director of energy policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau and a Holmes County native, notes that some Amish lease their land for less than the market value on purpose, with many Amish believing that a windfall will cause their children to leave the faith. “They see their futures at stake,” he said. “So their bishop will say, yeah, you can get a lease. But your settlement is going to be smaller than what your English neighbors are settling on, and it’s going to be in this range.”
There is more than a little caveat venditor to the Millers’ story. But going by this article, it also seems some unscrupulous and even potentially illegal practices have been perpetrated by those seeking to get Amish landowners to part with their energy rights.
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