Today, North Dakota Farm Bureau filed suit in Federal Court to challenge North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming laws. NDFB is taking this step in Federal District Court to finally settle this matter on behalf of our state’s largest industry and economic driver – our farmers.
The laws of our state, as they stand today, are forcing North Dakota’s farm families to make business management decisions that other businesses are not being forced to make.
North Dakota Farm Bureau believes our anti-corporate farming laws are discriminatory and unconstitutional. Our existing laws favor some family farms while working against other families and their business models. We have members – family farmers – who will be forced to divest their family businesses, simply because members of their family farm business are second cousins. Our family farmer members should not be excluded from the benefits of a corporate structure for estate planning, tax management and liability issues associated with managing a family business. While other states around us have vibrant livestock industries as a result of having access to the tools associated with a corporate business model, why should North Dakotans be forced to operate at a disadvantage?
For those who say our laws defend family farms, we would ask them, “Why do states that do not have statutes like our antiquated, out-of-date law have a higher percentage of small family farms than North Dakota does?”
A review of statistics available from the USDA National Ag Statistic Service, shows that states with the largest percentage of small family farms include; West Virginia, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Alabama, and Oklahoma while states with the smallest percentage of small family farms include; South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and North Dakota.
At the heart of the issue is the simple question of whether the state of North Dakota should be able to pick winners and losers between business entities based on whether the family business, or any business, is a grocery store, a café, an equipment dealer, elevator, fertilizer and other ag service provider, or a farm.
Our court system is the only appropriate place to settle this question without the issue being derailed by emotion, or fueled by public relations and advertising firms. This is a perfect example of why we have a judicial branch of government; to settle public questions outside the realm of emotion, personal biases, legislative expedience and politics.