September 25, 2018

NDFB responds to corporate farming ruling

Topic: Issues

Link to NDFB President Daryl Lies' podcast on this issue.

NDFB has reviewed – and will continue to review – the order on motions in the corporate farming lawsuit and is shocked regarding the claim of victory by the North Dakota Attorney General and others.

NDFB brought the lawsuit on behalf of farm families across the state, claiming the statute was unconstitutional while the Attorney General argued the law was constitutional. NDFB prevailed on nearly every motion.

Repeatedly, throughout the 39-page document, the court found the Attorney General, Farmers Union and Dakota Resource Council’s arguments to be meritless and unpersuasive, and therefore their numerous motions were denied.

It’s gratifying to see the court acknowledge the injury and harm our current law causes to our plaintiffs. Additionally, we were happy to see the court acknowledge the existing corporate farming laws clearly violate the dormant Commerce Clause, regarding the definition of the term “domestic.”

Quoting the court document, “The court finds the Plaintiffs have established, for purposes of standing, an actual and well-founded fear, supported by admissible evidence, that the corporate farming law may be enforced against them.

“Having determined that a concrete and imminent injury has been shown, there can be no question the injury has been caused by state action which can be redressed by a favorable ruling and a properly tailored injunction.”

Unfortunately, rather than striking the law down in its entirety as the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals did regarding the South Dakota and Nebraska statutes, the North Dakota district court severed this statute. In effect the Court removed the parts of the law that required discrimination against those outside North Dakota and now entered an order prohibiting such discrimination.

North Dakota’s corporate farming law, on the books since 1932 has had the reverse effect of protecting family farms. States that do not have statues like ours have a much higher percentage of small family farms and greater diversity in farms. USDA National Ag Statistic Service data shows that North Dakota ranks in the lowest percentage of small family farms. Coincidentally, Nebraska and South Dakota, which are in the same statistical category, until recently, also had anti-corporate farming laws.

The NDFB Board of Directors and plaintiffs will continue to review the judge’s ruling and determine what additional action needs to be taken.