North Dakota Farmers Union opposes a bill that would significantly weaken the state’s corporate farming law.

Having already been introduced and sent to the House Ag Committee, House Bill 1371 would remove swine, dairy, poultry and cattle feeding from the definition of a farm or ranch. The bill opens the door for major corporations to own and operate livestock operations in North Dakota. North Dakotans overwhelmingly voted down similar exemptions in 2016.

“The voters have already spoken on this issue – they do not want corporate farming in our state,” NDFU President Mark Watne said. “We need to invest in our people to enhance agriculture, not give opportunities away to big corporations.”

HB 1371 would allow corporations to have complete ownership of hog, dairy and poultry farms and cattle feedlots. The bill does not require corporate shareholders to be farmers and does not require corporations to partner with farmers or ranchers.

“Family farmers and ranchers are the future of North Dakota’s livestock sector,” Watne said. “NDFU will continue to collaborate with legislators and other partners to help family farmers and ranchers access new opportunities.”

The legislature passed a dairy and swine exemption in 2015, but North Dakota Farmers Union collected over 21,000 signatures to refer the law to a public vote. In 2016, North Dakota voters rejected the exemptions with a 76% “No” vote.