Court Upholds ND Corporate Farming Law

Late Friday afternoon, word came down that U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland upheld North Dakota’s Corporate Farming Law. The decision comes a little over two years since the North Dakota Farm Bureau (NDFB) sued the State of North Dakota. The lawsuit came just days before voters took to the polls to decide whether or not to overturn the Legislature’s changes to corporate farming. Voters rejected the measure by nearly 76%.

At the time of the lawsuit filing, NDFB President Daryl Lies said, “Our court system is the only appropriate place to settle

Senator Terry Wanzek

this question without the issue being derailed by emotion.” Yet, the timing of this was rather telling. Though they didn’t take official steps to back Senator Terry Wanzek and push corporate farming during the legislative session, chatter around the Capitol hallways during the debate suggested NDFB favored the move. Clearly, that chatter was accurate.

Instead, Lies waited until the writing was on the wall that North Dakotans were going to reject Wanzek and ultimately the outcome NDFB wanted. While filing the lawsuit, Lies claimed he and his group had been working on this lawsuit for over a year. Was his timing simply strategic or a hail mary attempt to force the change onto North Dakotans?

Ultimately, the North Dakota Farmers Union, Dakota Resource Council, and North Dakota voters prevailed. It wasn’t “emotion” that kept anti-corporate farming. It was the Court. No wonder why Terry Wanzek and other legislators are now running away from their failed effort to change state requirements. Will the issue be settled or resurrected next legislative session?