'Plot' Thickens in David Smith Farm Dispute

Acres of corn crop destroyed; court case is pending
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File this one under scorched earth policy: Following a land dispute in rural Baltimore County, Sinclair CEO David Smith hired a tractor to tear up 95 acres of corn on the disputed land, reports the Baltimore Sun.

Besides running Sinclair, Smith owns substantial real estate, restaurants and other business interests.

The farmer Stephen Pieper leases more than 1,000 acres in the area, including a plot acquired last year by Smith. Smith, a famously tough negotiator, said Pieper had breached the terms of their lease and was trespassing. Pieper says the farm is his to plant on.

Reports the Sun:

Pieper, 62, said that in more than 30 years of farming from about 50 landlords, farms have been developed and changed hands, but he has never seen a crop destroyed.

"This is devastating to me," Pieper said after watching the crop fall on July 20, when he tried to head off the tractor hired by Smith. "This crop would have been harvested in 75 days. It's sickening."

The farmland in the region is giving way to exurban development.

Both sides will argue their case in court come November.

(Photo via Lana's FlickrImage taken on Aug. 27, 2014 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

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