Agricultural Author Voices Concerns on Family Farms Across North Dakota

John Ikerd, agricultural author, thinks more pigs are needed in North Dakota.

According to the Bismark Tribune, Ikerd was invited by the Dakota Resource Council to present “Corporate Agriculture vs. Family Farms: A Battle for Hearts and Minds of the People.” The council is opposed to North Dakota’s recent exemptions to dairy and pork producers in the state in the anti-corporate farming law.

Ikerd’s presentation traveled to four cities including Fargo, Grand Forks, and Rugby and ending in Bismarck.

North Dakota lawmakers made changes to an 84-year-old law that prevents corporate farming in the state last year. The change was made due to a decrease in state dairy and hog production. Employment of farmers, ranchers, and others in the agricultural industry is expected to decline by 2% by 2024 in the United States.

Grand Forks Herald reports that North Dakota has gone from having more than 1,000 dairy farms with almost 100,000 cows, to just 86 with around 16,000 cows.

In the U.S., 41 states do not have laws restricting corporate farming of any kind. Of the remaining nine states that do allow corporate farming, North Dakota is the only one that does not have exemptions for livestock.

Ikerd believes that allowing corporate dairy farming will result in 5,000 or 10,000 more cows but the number of farms raising and caring for them would be less.

In his speech, Ikerd argues that the method of production needs to be changed. He proposed a better model that would focus on smaller, grass-fed beef operations rather than they way corporations use large feedlots and hoop house hog farms. These facilities require more management and mechanization than Ikerd’s method and would benefit family farms in the area.

“That’s what we ought to be creating,” Ikerd said. “That’s where the new opportunities are … we’re creating a whole new farm system.”

A referral petition sent the new law back to be voted again on June 14.

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