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Fight over corporate farming heads to Senate

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – Opponents of a measure to change North Dakota's anti-corporate farming bill are scrambling to get the state Senate to turn it down.

The House -- on a 53-40 vote -- passed the measure, which allows non-related people to invest in a farm operation. Current state law allows only family members to incorporate.

The vote took groups like the North Dakota Farmers Union by surprise. Richard Schlosser is a Farmers Union lobbyist. Schlosser says the argument against the bill will be that this bill actually opens the state up to corporation farms.

"It seems to be a rather harmless and inocuous bill which removes the kinship section in the law," said Schlosser. "We say that what that essentially does is opens it up. It's just the tip of the iceberg here. It's virtually rendering our corporate farming law indefensible."

Supporters are touting the measure as a way to bring more working capital into the farming community. The sponsor -- Rep. Tom Brusegaard (R-Gilby) says he will use the same arguments in the Senate to get it passed there.

"We need to provide farms every avenue of capital acquisition that we can," said Brusegaard. "Letting 15 people, whether or not they're related, pool their assets, pool their resources, pool their capital to provide a strong farming operation is inherently good for North Dakota. It's good for small towns and it's good for agriculture."