North Dakota agriculture is an industry of prosperity in our state. It can and does feed the businesses of our region and the people of the world.
North Dakota leads the nation in the production of several different crops; we now have the opportunity to take a lead position in the production of livestock and dairy. But in order to do this, we need to throw off the chains of fear and face the reality of the world we live in.
Fear mongers have tried to state that the current anti-corporate farming bill will be overturned and our state is going to be overrun by Conagra. In truth, Senate Bill 2351 creates an exemption that lets a corporation beyond the third degree of kinship own or lease up to 640 acres of land in order to operate a dairy or a swine facility.
Currently, corporate structures are legal if the owners are related. This would allow for a corporation to be formed between relatives or neighbors outside of that third degree of kinship.
Furthermore, in this model, corporations are subject to review of practices by not only the health and agriculture departments, but also by the secretary of state and attorney general’s offices on an annual basis.
If SB 2351 is made law, the entities will remain under the scrutiny of these regulators.
If a corporation buys or leases land and is not engaged in farming, it must divest the land within three years. That includes non-family owned corporations operating a dairy or swine facility.
Some believe that insurance companies and investment groups will place a few hogs or cows on a section of land in order to engage in other farming practices. This is a ridiculous accusation. It is illegal, under the bill, for a corporation that is not family-owned to engage in any farming practice other than swine or dairy production.
If a company is not making a good faith effort to follow the law, the corporation will be disbanded by order of the attorney general.
North Dakota agriculture needs more livestock in order to raise the tide that will lift the ships into more prosperous harbors. It is essential to the strength of rural economies that investment takes place in new and expanding endeavors.
We cannot sit back while industries die or remain stagnant and other states and nations overtake North Dakota’s rightful place as a leader of agriculture.