Rural Missouri - March 2018 - 5




Electricity, one village at a time
by Barry Hart |


he cooperative business model proved a
great success in bringing electricity to rural
people in the United States. But will it work
for those living without electricity in other
parts of the world?
That was the question the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association sought to answer 56
years ago when it established its International Program. The new program was designed to export a
particularly American idea, that a cooperative could
provide an essential service when and where other
forms of business could not.
The program began in November 1962 when
NRECA and the newly established U.S. Agency for
International Development signed an agreement
in an Oval Office ceremony witnessed by President
John F. Kennedy. The idea was to share with developing countries the lessons learned by U.S. electric
cooperatives as they solved the problems of building
power lines in hostile terrain, finding new sources
of wholesale power and creating new engineering
standards that lowered expenses.
Flash forward to today, and the work of NRECA
International has benefitted more than 110 million people in 42 nations. For these people, life has
changed for the better. They now have access to better education, improved health, clean water, refrigeration and greater economic opportunity.
One big reason for the success of these programs is the volunteer efforts of electric cooperative employees, including many from Missouri.
These people have given up their vacation days, left
their families behind and traveled to places such as
Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti and South Sudan to share
their job skills with those less fortunate people.

The stories these volunteers have shared with me
warm my heart.
Many of them have come home a little bit lighter
in their luggage, having left behind their tools so
their newfound friends would have something with
which to maintain those new power lines. Others
have passed the hat to buy a refrigerator for a family that now has electricity, but not the funds to
take advantage of all it has to offer.
In August 2016, a team of Missourians and their
counterparts from Oklahoma traveled to Bolivia for
what was a new venture for both states. Where previous trips involved just a few volunteers, this was
an all-out group effort that resulted in turning on
the lights for Bolivians in two rural communities in
the Amazon region.
In December, another group of Missouri lineworkers left the Show-Me State bound for another tiny
Bolivian community high up in the Andes Mountains. They faced serious hardships while working in the rarefied air at 13,000 feet to bring the
benefits of electricity to those living in the dark. A
month later, another group of Missourians returned
to extend those lines even farther.
You can read more about this effort on pages
21-24 of this issue. I am proud of the work these volunteers did for a community of people they had never met. As always with these projects, they arrived
strangers but departed as friends. And they left the
world a little bit better place in which to live.
Thanks to them, more than 100 families in
Chapasirca, Bolivia, can light their homes with
electricity instead of dangerous candles. Children
will have a brighter future because they can now
use computers outside of school. Farmers can add
value to the potatoes they grow with refrigeration.
In return, these linemen go back to work

energized by the good deeds they accomplished.
They also learned new skills they can apply on the
job and a sense of achievement after overcoming
many obstacles.
There is still plenty of work to be done in similar
villages around the world. But through the efforts
of these men and others from across the United
States, the goal of bringing the benefits of electricity
to all is moving closer to reality. You can learn more
about the program at
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.


Making sense of Missouri's fence law
by Joseph Koenen |


obert Frost said "good fences make good
neighbors," and that still holds true in
today's world. Fence and boundary issues
continue to cause conflicts
and confusion among neighbors. Missouri's fence laws are even more complex based on the county where your
land is located as there are two distinct laws. I will try to address some
issues that I hear all the time related
to these laws.
In 2016 the legislature made a
change in the fence statute designed
to help livestock owners. Former Governor Nixon vetoed it but the legislature overturned his veto and it became
law. It requires someone to prove negJoseph
ligence on the part of the livestock
owner in order to collect damages from
a livestock owner. While in today's litigation climate
there is no certainty, there are some ways for a livestock owner to protect themselves.
First, keep your boundary and non-boundary
fences up to the minimum legal standard. Wire or

posts that are laying on the ground do not maintain
Second, you need to repair water gaps as soon as
feasible. Unfortunately, we all know it takes longer
to repair water gaps from a 3-inch rain than it does
from a 1-inch rain.
Third, feed and care for your livestock properly. Animals that aren't fed
will look for food elsewhere.
Fourth, when an animal gets out
of the fence multiple times, the owner must do something to stop it. Due
diligence will go a long ways to protect
you as producers.
Another major issue that has grown
in the past 15 years due to increasing land values is adverse possession.
Adverse possession is an old English
law that essentially says if you use
someone's land as your own for 10
years or more, then it is extremely
difficult for the original owner to claim that land
There are several misconceptions about adverse
possession though. It requires open possession of
the land, adverse to the true owner's interest, uti-

lized as your own (pasture, timber, cropland, etc.),
continuous over the 10-plus years and the true
owner does not object or do anything to stop it. A
new owner with a survey alone has a very difficult
time to change a line when a fence has been in that
spot for 25 years. There is a way to avoid this if both
of you can agree on the problem 25 years later.
There are several resources you can utilize to
learn more about the law. You can check out the
law in detail at and typing
in "fence laws" into the search bar. Guide 810 discusses the law in general while Guide 811 answers
frequently asked questions. Adverse possession is
detailed more in Guide 811. You will need to scroll
down the page to locate them. I also provide programs explaining the laws in detail at various times,
especially in winter months. Finally, you can contact me at 660-947-2705 or
with individual questions.
The best solution remains to get along with your
neighbors and try to help new ones understand the
law where their land is located. Feel free to contact
me for specific issues also.
Koenen is an MU Extension agriculture business


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2018

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