BISMARK, ND – Opponents of corporate farming in North Dakota succeeded in overturning Measure 1, a law that would have loosened restrictions on corporate-owned farms in the state.
Voters soundly rejected Measure 1 with 75.7 percent of votes cast against the law compared to 24.3 percent of votes in favor of it, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State website. Voter turnout was 24.29 percent of the total voting age population.
“From the minute this law passed, we saw tremendous grassroots support to overturn the law,” Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU), said in a statement. “People were fired up, and they did not want this dangerous law to go into effect. The volunteer support and enthusiasm was remarkable.”
The NDFU along with North Dakotans for Family Farms launched a petition drive to put the law on the June 14 ballot. The initiative netted more than 20,000 signatures.
“We left no stone unturned to defeat Measure 1, because it was that important to us and to our state,” Watne added. “There is a reason that our volunteers made tens of thousands of calls in January alone. North Dakotans want to keep family farming strong in our state. And defeating Measure 1 was critical to that.”
However, the fight isn’t over — The North Dakota Farm Bureau filed a federal lawsuit attempting to overturn the state’s corporate farming laws. During a press conference held earlier this month, NDFB President Daryl Lies, said North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming laws force farm families to make business decisions that other businesses are not required to make.
“At the heart of the issue is the simple question of whether the state of North Dakota should be able to pick winners and losers between business entities based on whether the family business, or any business, is a grocery store, a café, an equipment dealer, elevator, fertilizer and other ag service provider, or a farm,” Lies said. “Our court system is the only appropriate place to settle this question without the issue being derailed by emotion, or fueled by public relations and advertising firms.”