LETTER: Here is the reality of corporate farming

Originally published in the Fargo Forum, 6.7.16

by K.C. Pullen, Minot, ND

In 1979, I left North Dakota to work for a chamber of commerce in Nebraska. The president of the chamber at that time was also a banker. He called one day and told me that he would be using the board room and that I was to be present, to say nothing but observe and see how “we do things in Nebraska.”

I was introduced to two men from a large nationally-known insurance company. They were there to complete buying farmland for corn for their planned ethanol plant. A family farm was going on the auction block in two days. The local banker, the farmer’s and the son’s banker no less, were there to discuss how much the sons were allowed to borrow from their local banker.

Only the insurance company reps were verbal, they would ask different amounts per acre regarding the bid that would be needed over what the bank had agreed to lend the sons. The banker never spoke a word, however, he communicated with motions of his eyes or ever so slight nod of his head when the right amount was mentioned. Meeting over. Two days later, the sons were out-bid by an out-of-state corporation. The insurance reps weren’t on-site but their local plant was.

I resigned and came back to North Dakota, where family farms and ranches mean something to us. I was naive and didn’t realize how major companies can take over what farmer/ranchers have built a lifetime for.

The effort to change our anti-corporate farm law brought these memories to mind again. Time doesn’t change the realities of that day or ease the hurt. This can happen to us in North Dakota if Measure 1 passes. Please, vote “no” on June 14.