Gov. Doug Burgum today was joined by dozens of legislators, representatives of statewide farm commodity groups and state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring for the signing of House Bill 1371, which modernizes North Dakota’s corporate farming law to encourage growth in the animal agriculture sector.
“These narrowly defined changes in state law will take the handcuffs off our farmers and ranchers and allow capital investment to flow into our state, growing animal agriculture, adding value to crops, creating opportunities for the next generation, and helping rural communities and schools to thrive in North Dakota once again,” Burgum said. “With House Bill 1371, we can level the playing field with other states and expand animal agriculture with environmental stewardship. We’re grateful to the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Paul Thomas of Velva, Commissioner Goehring and all of the bill sponsors, commodity groups and other supporters for their collaboration on this groundbreaking legislation.”
Goehring noted that in neighboring states, 40% to 50% of agricultural receipts come from livestock, compared with only 16% to 18% in North Dakota.
“This will add so much more (value) to every bushel of grain. It’ll help offset expenses because we’re going to be able to utilize the manure, something that’s more natural, more balanced more beneficial, and improves soil health. And then it turns around and it creates more value in our backyard, with swine, with dairy, maybe some more feedlots, also opportunities maybe to get into the poultry business,” Goehring said. “Now, I believe we have the environment to support our farmers, to support our rural communities and to support animal agriculture.”
In his State of the State address on Jan. 3, Burgum urged the Legislature to modernize the corporate farming law with the goal of growing the state’s dairy, livestock, feedlot, swine and poultry production and adding value to North Dakota crops.
Lawmakers delivered with HB 1371, which allows an authorized livestock farm corporation or limited liability company (LLC) to own or lease farmland or ranchland if the entity has no more than 10 shareholders or members. For corporations, shareholders holding 75% or more of the shares must be actively engaged in farming or ranching; for an LLC, the percentage is 51%. Shareholders must be U.S. citizens, and no corporation or LLC may own, lease or have an interest in more than 160 acres of farmland or ranchland.
“(House Bill 1371) brings a modernization of the capital that’s needed to support animal agriculture amongst our family farms and ranchers. This bill provides that important tool,” Thomas said. “These animal agriculture facilities are not only going to drive animal ag numbers, they’re going to add value to the feed grains that we’ve worked to develop in this state through soybean processing plants, corn ethanol production facilities, the canola crush plant in my local community. We’re exporting value out of this state, but with these animal ag operations coming into the state, we’re going to add that value back into our local communities.”
The bill has an emergency clause, so it will take effect immediately, allowing potential projects to begin construction this spring.
Co-sponsoring the bill were House Majority Leader Mike Lefor and Reps. Dick Anderson, Jay Fisher, Jared Hagert, Craig Headland, and Senate Majority Leader David Hogue and Sens. Cole Conley, Larry Luick and Terry Wanzek. The House approved the final bill by a vote of 72-20, and the Senate passed it 41-5.