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Corporate Ownership Limitations

| Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Nov 20, 2008 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/rule/corporate-ownership-limitations/

Corporate owned farms tend to be large-scale operations that produce food for consumers who are widely dispersed geographically. They are also operations whose profits are more likely to end up in corporate headquarters than back in the local economy. And when corporate farming expands, those who farm the land become tenants rather than independent producers.

To counter corporate ownership, nine states have placed some sort of restrictions on corporate-owned farms. Only two, however–Nebraska and South Dakota–have anti-corporate farming restrictions written into their constitutions. The other seven–Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Wisconsin–have statutes restricting corporate involvement in agriculture, though most include loopholes that dilute the impact of the ban. Kansas, however, does allow counties to vote on whether to oppose corporate farming, and over 20 have done so. The following section lists these laws that ban or limit corporate ownership of agricultural production.

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Rules


Banning Corporate Farms – Southampton Township, PA

The ordinance is modeled after the language of the constitutional amendments passed in Nebraska and South Dakota that ban corporate farms in those states. Similar laws have passed in Thompson Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania and Wells Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania. According to the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), as of late 2004, 78 Pennsylvania townships have passed laws banning corporate involvement in agriculture. Several townships have passed laws stripping corporations of constitutional protections and powers. Continue reading

Referendum-Enabling Legislation Banning Corporate Farming – Kansas

Kansas law allows counties to vote on whether to oppose corporate farming and many have done so. Over 20 counties have voted to keep corporate hog farms out of their county and more county votes are occurring all the time. However, Murphy Farms, despite its multistate ownership of nearly 300,000 sows claims to not be a corporate farm. A lawsuit is being prepared to challenge Murphy’s claim. Continue reading

Corporate Farming Law – Minnesota

Minnesota’s corporate farming law passed in 1973 to "to encourage and protect the family farm as a basic economic unit". The law states that"No corporation, limited liability company, pension or investment fund, trust, or limited partnership shall engage in farming…directly or indirectly, own, acquire, or otherwise obtain any interest, in agricultural land". However, several exceptions exist. While the law applies to all livestock, poultry is completely exempt. For other livestock a corporation can retain livestock ownership for one production cycle or 18 months. Other exemptions exist for timber land, nonprofits, and farm trusts. Continue reading

Banning Corporate Ownership – South Dakota

Amendment E was passed via referendum in November 1998 with 59 percent of the vote. It was backed by more than two-thirds of farmers and received significant support from South Dakota’s urban centers. Amendment E joined Nebraska’s Initiative 300 as one of the strictest measures of its kind in the nation. Not only were corporations forbidden from owning or controlling farmland, but the practice of of companies paying farmers to raise crops or livestock on their behalf was also prohibited. This practice, known as "contract feeding," was permissible through a loophole in the old anti-corporate farming law, passed by the state legislature in 1988. Amendment E also disallowed structures such as limited liability corporations and partnerships in which farmers join together to limit their financial liability. Continue reading

Corporate Farming Law – Nebraska

Initiative Number 300, the country’s toughest anti-corporate farming law, was adopted in 1982 as part of the state’s constitution–thus it cannot be changed by the legislature. Its reach is broad, covering not only land ownership but the operation of farms and ranches. Thus a corporation cannot even own livestock that are custom fed or contract-produced in another feedlot. Continue reading

Cooperative Tax Credit – Missouri

The ordinance is modeled after the language of the constitutional amendments passed in Nebraska and South Dakota that ban corporate farms in those states. Similar laws have passed in Thompson Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania and Wells Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania. According to the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), as of late 2004, 78 Pennsylvania townships have passed laws banning corporate involvement in agriculture. Several townships have passed laws stripping corporations of constitutional protections and powers. Continue reading

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