by Jenny Schlecht, Bismarck Tribune
Few people argued that North Dakota's beef industry needed help staying relevant when a bill arose in the 2015 Legislature that would have loosened the state's anti–corporate agriculture law.
Current law allows only corporations made up of families to own agricultural land. Proponents of the bill thought allowing corporate swine and dairy operations to rent or own up to 640 acres of land would stimulate the dwindling industries.
While a voter referendum last month killed that measure, the idea of expanding corporate agriculture in North Dakota did not die with it. The North Dakota Farm Bureau is suing in federal court to do away with the law in its entirety, which would allow corporations to be involved in any agricultural venture.
What impacts such a move could have on the beef industry remain to be seen.
The number of beef cattle operations in North Dakota has decreased from more than 15,000 in 1982 to fewer than 9,000 in 2012, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. However, the number of beef cows in the state remains high, with 904,000 beef cows and 55,000 head on feed for slaughter in the state as of Jan. 1.
And a new packing plant in Aberdeen, S.D., could open up more opportunities for feeding and finishing cattle, as North Dakota has the feed, the grass and the environment ripe for adding cattle to the herd.
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Source; Bismarck Tribune