Hassan farmers in tiff over right to harvest hay from town land
by Bob Grawey
Farmers are generally a peaceful bunch of citizens.
But let a little hay get between them and all of a sudden that peace-loving nature can become downright threatening.
That was the case recently in Hassan Township.
The town has several tracts of land it maintains, but for various reasons it leases them out to farmers so it can save money; in this instance, money saved in mowing the land.
Farmers have been doing the mowing instead, receiving $25 a season from Hassan and they get to mow the grass for hay.
Crops, however, are not allowed.
In the past, the town made these contracts with a handshake and a verbal agreement.
However, the town board decided it was time to put these mowing contracts into writing.
So, Hassan administrator Bill Craig sent letters to farmers in the township asking any who would be interested in mowing to return the letter signed with their intent.
When a young farmer, Carl Olson, returned his letter of intent, indicating his desire to mow four of six town parcels, word got out among the older farmers who had been mowing the land for hay.
Though the older men did not return their letter of intent to Hassan stating their desire to mow town property in 2011, they apparently blamed the younger Olson for not getting haying rights with the town.
Olson told the Hassan Town Board May 2 that some of these farmers even showed up at his place of public employment to confront him over the matter.
He added they entered the lunch room where they accused him in front of his co-workers of “stealing their land.”
“I don’t steal from anyone,” Olson told town officials. “I just want to do this right.”
In the end, Olson was granted mowing rights on three of the parcels he sought for haying, while Jim Kemmetmueller received a contract for two parcels and Jerry Knapp received a contract for one tract.