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Published March 24, 2023

Corporate Livestock Bill Reaches Committee 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan
Dutch Bialke, ND Dept. of Agriculture. (Photo: submitted)
Dutch Bialke, ND Dept. of Agriculture. (Photo: submitted)

ND Senators Hear Testimony 

BISMARCK – A bill for the purpose of “authorized livestock farm corporation requirements”, touted by Gov. Doug Burgum in his annual state-of-the-state address, was heard by members of the Senate Agriculture and Veteran’s Affairs Committee Friday. 

The bill, dubbed both the Corporate Ranching bill and the “North Dakota Animal Agriculture Farm Freedom Act”, seeks to change the state’s corporate farming laws to allow for increased animal production. 

Dutch Bialke, ND Department of Agriculture, told the Senate committee that, “This bill will allow animal agriculture to grow, develop, and flourish in our state.” 

Mark Watne, Velva, ND Farmers Union president. (Photo: submitted)

Mark Watne, Velva, North Dakota Farmers Union president, testified that the NDFB was neutral on the bill. When questioned about the possibility that the NDFU would seek to put the bill on the ballot for referral, if passed, Watne responded, “If this bill stays intact, we will not go down the path of referral.” 

Samuel Wagner, Dakota Resource Council, voiced his opposition to the bill. 

“Let’s start out with the narrative that South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska are kicking our butts in livestock production,” said Wagner. “We currently have 169,000 hogs in the state. In 2003, when the law was relaxed in South Dakota, they already had 1.3 million pigs on 1,500 farms across the state. It’s extremely clear there are other reasons North Dakota doesn’t have livestock. Cold weather, lack of processing, and high transportation costs.” 

Samuel Wagner, Dakota Resource Council. (Photo: submitted)

Additionally, said Wagner, the state would have to fund more employees to deal with permitting and inspecting of an increase in animal agriculture.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill. HB1371 previously passed the House 70-24 but will likely be amended by the Senate before proceeding to a floor vote. 

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