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Corporate Farming Vote Could Increase Farm Consolidation in North Dakota

Bacon, Inc.

This Session, the South Dakota Legislature passed Senate Bill 98, which repealed the ban on corporate ownership of hog farms in South Dakota. That action was made possible by the Eighth Circuit Court’s 2004 ruling that the 1998 initiated amendment that bans corporate farming is unconstitutional.

North Dakota voters get their say on a corporate farming bill next month. In March 2015, their legislature passed Senate Bill 2351, which exempts “corporate dairy and swine operations of at least 50 cows or 500 swine on a farm of up to 640 acres” from their statewide corporate farming restrictions.

North Dakota farmer Sandra Banish of Cayuga says letting corporations own dairy and swine operations will harm North Dakota by making it more like South Dakota:

If Measure 1 passes and corporate farming in North Dakota is allowed, it will be a financial disaster for the state of North Dakota. North Dakota would see a lack of investment in local economies. I have seen this happen in other states that have corporate farming. There’s increased consolidation of farms that take ownership away from the very people who work the land and are stewards of the land.

Proponents often point to South Dakota as a successful model of growth in animal agriculture. What’s happening there isn’t expansion or growth of farms, it’s consolidation. Since South Dakota weakened its corporate farming restrictions, the state has lost 5,000 small and medium-size farms. It actually has fewer dairies now than with stricter laws in place. Nearly 80 percent of medium-sized dairies in South Dakota have been wiped out since 2004. South Dakota isn’t the ideal model of animal agriculture. It’s a warning sign and example of what could happen in North Dakota if Measure 1 passes [Sandra Banish, letter to the editor, Ag Week, 2016.05.04].

Sow numbers in South Dakota rose 8.6% last year to a twenty-year high; over the past decade, South Dakota hog production has risen 53%. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, from 2007 to 2012, the number of hog farms in South Dakota lost 364 hog farms, 35% of the 2007 total. We’re making more bacon, but fewer independent farmers are bringing it home.


  1. mike from iowa 2016-05-05 10:17

    Corporate ownership means more immigrant workers and lower pay with much money being sent back to where the immigrants come from. Not to mention changing the environmental control rules in favor of more pollution.

  2. Gayle Halverson 2016-05-06 00:21

    “Woe to he who adds lands to lands for he shall bring starvation to the people.” Must government from gambling to farming become predatory? Once there was a time when government was to serve the people..oh God how we have drifted. We the people had better wake up to the greed taking over. Who will speak up for the people?

  3. Cody Raterman 2016-05-06 01:29

    This case (Hazeltine Am E) was featured on the 2016 Civil Procedure Final Exam for 1st year Law Students today in Professor David Day’s class (question 4/4); a 3.5 hr essay that left many students weeping.

    Glad I read my daily Dakotafreepress.


  4. clcjm 2016-05-06 19:21

    Allowing more and more corporate greed has been the overall goal for decades. Everything the dominant political party has done for decades is everything possible to destroy our small farmers and small towns.

    One of the most effective techniques has been the deliberate underfunding of education in those towns. I know of perhaps half a dozen small towns in my hometown area near the Doland/Redfield area that have been closed in my lifetime. With the loss of the school, the community shrinks dramatically or disappears completely! Without the school and town to hold the community, the people, together, our young people leave for better opportunities and options. The family farm gets sold to corporations when grandparents or parents retire. And thus it goes!

    My own parents were forced off the farm by an FHA rule. When the opportunity to put most of the farm acreage into the Soil Bank, FHA was fine with that. The program paid farmers to fallow their land to raise crop prices by reducing the amount being grown. My parents saw it as a way to have a good income every fall without having to borrow money to plant or worry about crop failures. It actually meant a way to get out of debt. And for 10 years they slowly did exactly that.

    Then the contract ended and they wanted to rent the land out because they’d finally gotten out of debt and didn’t want to have to buy all new machinery and borrow money for seed, etc. FHA said, “No. It’s supposed to stay a family farm!” Well, my folks decided to sell rather than become indebted again! And believe me, the guy from California who bought it for some kind of tax write off didn’t care that it wasn’t going to be a family farm!

    The ultimate goal is to put more and more land, business and money into the powerful corporations! If we don’t wake up and stop this very soon, we, the American people, will be living in a third world country!!

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