© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Author and agricultural law expert Neil Hamilton wants Iowans to listen to the land

Clay Masters
Neil Hamilton stands on the farm site of his home in Adams County with the back 40 acres in the far distance that he gives voice to in his book "The Land Remains" early last week.

Neil Hamilton spent 36 years as the director of the Drake University Agricultural Law Center before retiring in 2019. Hamilton's new book is called "The Land Remains: A Midwestern Perspective on our Past and Future."

The lockdowns from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic helped motivate Neil Hamilton to write what would become his new book.

“I sat down and wrote every day over most of the year because I wasn’t going anywhere,” Hamilton said with a laugh. At the same time, he says the pandemic showed many people just “how important it was to be able to get outside.”

IPR's Clay Masters recently met Hamilton on the farm site where he grew up in Adams County to talk about his new book.

Hamilton says his role at a private university as opposed to a public one gave him more academic freedom to speak publicly about policies in a state dominated by agricultural interests. Throughout the book, he regularly gives voice to a part of the land where he grew up he calls "the back 40."

“We all want to live forever,” Hamilton says while looking off at the back 40. “The land is going to long outlive us, it's going to transfer into somebody else's hands, maybe our children, maybe not [and] they're going to make decisions on how to use it and to some extent; the face of what we see on the land is really the portrait of the owner.”

Hamilton is now emeritus professor of law at Drake University and a board member of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

IPR News Environment
Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.