ND Farmers Union seeks to intervene in lawsuit challenging corporate farming ban
BISMARCK - The North Dakota Farmers Union asked for permission Wednesday, Oct. 12, to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's 84-year-old anti-corporate farming law.
BISMARCK – The North Dakota Farmers Union asked for permission Wednesday, Oct. 12, to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s 84-year-old anti-corporate farming law.
The North Dakota Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs filed the lawsuit June 2 in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, claiming the law passed by voters in 1932 as a way to protect family farmers is unconstitutional and actually hurts farmers by limiting their ability to attract investment and secure financing and lowering the value of their farms.
If the judge grants the motion to intervene, Farmers Union will be able to participate in the ongoing litigation.
“Farmers Union led the fight that created our corporate farming law back in the ’30s and we’ve defended it, repeatedly, ever since,” President Mark Watne said. “As a result, we have a strong family farm and ranch culture that is the envy of other states and the backbone of our economy.”
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who is defending the law on behalf of the state, asked in a court filing Tuesday that the case be dismissed.
North Dakota is one of nine states that prohibit or limit corporate farming and is the only state with no exemption for livestock. The law contains an exemption for family corporations and limited liability companies with up to 15 related shareholders.
State lawmakers passed a bill last year that would have lifted the ban for dairy and swine operations. But opponents led by Farmers Union gathered enough signatures to refer the bill to a statewide vote in June, and voters rejected it by a 3-to-1 margin.