LETTER: Corporate farms won’t help the state

Originally published in the Bismarck Tribune, 6.7.16

by Bob Finken of Douglas, ND

I am a fourth generation North Dakota family farmer, writing in opposition to Measure 1. If passed, the measure will weaken our state’s anti-corporate farming law.

Corporate farming won’t increase farm gate prices for milk or pork. Corporate farms will be most concerned about returns to their investors and there is no guarantee that a corporate farm will buy locally.

What’s happening where corporate farming is allowed isn’t growth of farms — it’s consolidation. Since South Dakota weakened their corporate farming restrictions, they’ve lost 5,000 small and medium-sized farms. They actually have fewer dairies now than when they had more protective laws in place.

It will only drive up the price of land and rent as corporate farms expand their land base. This will cause farming margins to be thinner yet for all farmers and make it more difficult for family farmers and especially beginning farmers to compete for land against the deep pockets of corporations.

Proponents also falsely tout that Measure 1 is needed to allow current family farms to pass their operation on to the next generation. Current North Dakota laws already allow family members the ability to incorporate or form LLPs. This is really about money and power. Whoever has the most of one has the most of both.

These efforts to allow corporate farming goes against the strong current movement where consumers demand to know where their food comes from. Which do you think is more appealing to consumers, food from a family farm or some corporate “factory” farm?

The proponents of corporate farming should put their own self-interests and ideologies aside and recognize that the strength of our state lies in family farm and ranch agriculture. Some things are worth protecting! Vote no on June 14.