Friday, January 18, 2013

Kansas agriculture secretary seeks repeal of laws that strictly limit corporate farming

Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman has asked the state legislature to repeal laws restricting corporate involvement in farming, a move that would reverse a nearly 80-year-old policy, John Hanna of The Associated Press reports. Rodman, a former executive with agribusiness company Cargill Inc., said the anti-corporate laws "hinder the growth of agriculture and recruitment of new agribusinesses" in the state, Hanna reports. 

Kansas law limits corporate ownership of farmland to family farm corporations, family partnerships and corporations with fewer than 15 stockholders, all of whom must be Kansas residents. There are exceptions to the law for feedlots and poultry operations, and counties can allow corporate dairies and hog farms. Kansas Farmers Union President Donn Teske told Hanna repealing the law would be the end of family farming. "Every time a 2,000-cow dairy [operation] goes in, it takes 20 dairy farmers out of a community," Teske said. "That is not economic development. That is rural depopulation." 

According to the National Agricultural Law Centerat the University of Arkansas, eight other states have laws restricting corporate farming: Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over most of those states, has struck down voter-approved corporate restrictions in Nebraska and South Dakota. (Read more)

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