Corporate farming law could expand ownership rights to second cousins

 Bismarck, ND – A bill has passed that will change North Dakota’s corporate farming laws. Right now, only a specific list of relatives can take over ownership of a farm. But, that list could soon grow.

Representative Brandy Pyle’s (R-District 22) husband has a farm that has been in the family for generations.

“It’s something that North Dakota prides itself on. My husband is a sixth generation farmer. My kids are sixth generation in our house. So we want to continue that,” she said.

It’s a corporate farm.

“My husband actually farms with his first cousin,” she explained.

if they were to keep the farm in the family in the future by passing it on to their kids, second-cousins would be farming together.

“It still stays in the family. It still stays in the bloodline,” Pyle said.

But that’s not allowed under the state’s corporate farming laws. Only a list of specific relatives can own a farm corporation. HB 1388, which has passed the house and senate, will add second-cousins to the list.

Senator Jim Dotzenrod (D-District 26) is worried about the precedent this would set.

“I think it’s just going to be a track that we’re going to have a hard time getting out of. Once we begin to expand these corporate entities in our state that are farming, it’s going to be hard to turn the next one down,” Sen. Dotzenrod said.

The North Dakota Farm Bureau says this could save farms.

“When the farm is broken up into parts, it’s harder for them to survive. So to keep the farm in one unit, whether it’s first cousins or second cousins, we think is the most important thing,” NDFB Director of Public Policy Pete Hanebutt said.

The bill still needs the governor’s signature.

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