|Attorney general taps UND scholars expertise on key North Dakota corporate farming law case|
UND rural sociologist Curtis Stofferahn is no stranger to research on issues involving rural North Dakota. Stofferahn is well-known in rural sociology circles for, among other things, his many years conducting the North Dakota Rural Life Poll.
Stofferahn was tapped by N.D. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to provide expert testimony in the case of State of North Dakota vs. Crosslands. The case involved a nonprofit conservation group founded 20 years ago by a Minneapolis precious metals dealer. Stenehjem contended that the group, Crosslands, had acquired land in several counties in breach of North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming laws.
North Dakota law prohibits corporations from farming, ranching, or owning or leasing farmland. North Dakota family-controlled corporations are exempt from the law. The law does allow nonprofit organizations such a Crosslands to buy agricultural land for conservation purposes, such as wildlife reserves, but only after submitting to an extensive review process and getting an okay from the governor.
Rural social scientists have been called upon as expert witnesses to document the legitimate public purposes that corporate farming laws such as North Dakota’s serve, Stofferahn said. These social scientists-including Stofferahn-draw upon existing research that documents the effects of industrialized farming on communities.
Stofferahn concluded in his review of the literature for this case that-based on the evidence generated by social scientists-there is good reason for the public to be concerned about the negative community impacts of industrialized farming.
This was a great opportunity for me to rediscover the literature on this topic because it had been the primary area of my research as a doctoral student, Stofferahn said. After I posted my report on my Web site, it was quickly distributed across the country. At last count, there were 212 Google citations connecting back to my report.
A North Dakota district judge recently decided that Crosslands could keep some, but not all of, the more than 1,700 acres of wildlife habitat it owns in three North Dakota counties. The judge also upheld the North Dakota's anti-corporate farm law.
Stofferahn and colleague Linda Lobao, a rural sociologist at Ohio State University who provided expert testimony in the challenge to the South Dakota corporate farming law, last year published an article titled “The Community Effects of Industrialized Farming: Social Science Research and Challenges to Corporate Farming Laws in Agriculture and Human Values.”
In that article, Stofferahn and Lobao concluded that social science research supports the position that public concern about industrialized farming is warranted and, in turn, that states have a legitimate public interest in regulating these farms.
This conclusion rests on the consistency of research which has found detrimental effects of industrialized farming on many indicators of community quality of life, particularly those involving the social fabric of communities, Stofferahn and Lobao wrote.
For more information, contact Curtis Stofferahn, professor of sociology, at 777-4418 or firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Juan Pedraza, National Media Relations Coordinator, University Relations, email@example.com, 777-6571