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'Limited' corporate farming bill passes House

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – The House has approved a limited corporate farming bill.

It would allow as many as 15 shareholders in a farm corporation. The person working the land would have to be the principal shareholder, and corporations could not directly invest in the farm.

North Dakota has corporate farming now -- but it's restricted to family members. Under the bill -- the partners don't have to be related.

Hurdsfield representative Robin Weisz says he has opposed corporate farming in the past -- but he thinks Brusegaard's bill will do some good.

"This isn't gonna decimate our small towns," Weisz told the House. "They're being decimated already because we aren't getting people to come back and farm. This is an opportunity, hopefully, even if it's a handful, for young farmers to get started in farming."

But Wimbledon Representative Phillip Mueller says he worries about corporate farming bringing an unfavorable change in North Dakota's image.

"Probably the biggest concern I have about the issue is that if we go down this road, we no longer are a state of family farmers. It changes the image of North Dakota in a big way -- and I'm suggesting to you, not a positive way."

The measure passed 53-40 -- and will now be considered in the state Senate.