ND Farmers Union Jumps into Lawsuit to Keep Corporate Farming Out

In a fight to keep corporate farming out of the state, North Dakota Farmers Union announced they are filing a motion to intervene with a lawsuit.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of an existing law which keeps corporate farming out of the state.

Voters rejected Measure 1 in June this year, a referendum which would have allowed farm lands to be purchased by corporations.

As it stands, these corporations are not allowed to purchase farmlands in the state.

“In fact, every county voted not to change this law,” North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne said.

But even after Measure 1 went down, Watne’s fight still rages on.

“The Farm Bureau has, along with some other Plaintiffs, have chosen to try to remove the restriction to corporate farming in North Dakota,” Watne said. In essence, to remove the whole law.”

Watne wants to approve a motion allowing the Farmers Union to act against the Bureau’s lawsuit.

“If approved, a federal judge will allow us to be a participant where we can do depositions and testify and so forth in this issue,” Watne said.

Daryl Lies of the Farm Bureau says the current law is discriminatory.

He says the states around us have vibrant livestock industries because of a corporate business model, suggesting North Dakota operates at a disadvantage.

Local farmers say there’s a lot of risks when it comes to corporate ownership of farmland.

Mike Langseth, who operates a family farm and is a member of the Soybean Council, says corporate farming could force out some family farmers.

“There’s a potential for a large increase in land prices. That makes it harder for family farmers like myself to operate,” he explained.

“Family farms are providing a great amount of food, we’re excellent at production, we do a really good job. Not sure why the system needs to change,” Watne said.

No matter the outcome, Watne said he’ll continue fighting for the interests of our local farmers.

The current law has an exemption for corporations and companies of no more than 15 people.