The Issue

North Dakota Farmers Union is working to overturn the Legislature’s decision to allow corporate farming in our state. NDFU members gathered over 20,000 signatures to put the issue to a vote of the people on the June 2016 ballot.

The Current Corporate Farming Law

Currently, North Dakota’s agriculture industry is run by family farmers – those closest to the land.  And with that structure in place, North Dakota agriculture has become the backbone of our state’s economy, and our way of life.

Restrictions on corporation ownership of farmland and ranchland in North Dakota are born from an initiated measure enacted by the citizens in 1932. The legislature has amended the corporate farming law since then, with changes that continue to ensure that the family farm structure is the foundation of the state’s agriculture economy.

North Dakota’s corporate farming law prohibits a non-family corporation or LLC from owning or leasing land used for farming or ranching and from “engaging in the business of farming or ranching.  ” This helps insure that the people who own and operate farming businesses in North Dakota have a stake in the future of our state because they are our friends and neighbors.  

And there is great flexibility under current law for family farmers and ranchers to form family corporations or LLCs. Other types of business structures, credit programs aimed at farmers and ranchers, and other tools are also available, all to help our family farmers thrive.

Explanation of SB 2351

SB 2351 would allow corporate farming in North Dakota.  Specifically, corporations could own and run swine and dairy operations and own up to a section of land (640 acres, 1 mile by 1 mile).

This exemption is so broad, that corporate dairy and swine operations could have:

  • No tie to the farm or ranch
  • No tie to the community
  • Limitless shareholders
  • Shareholders who are not related
  • Shareholders who are not engaged in the farm or ranch operations

A poll by DFM Research of St. Paul released by North Dakota Farmers Union showed 75 percent of North Dakotans are opposed to allowing corporate farming.