- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Minot Daily News, Minot, March 25, 2015

We will protect our own

When word broke over the weekend that ISIS was trying to hit America at its core - by targeting our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines - it hit real close to home.

Included on the ISIS “hit list” of 100 service members were six airmen stationed at Minot Air Force Base. The reason these six were included has not been fully explained, but from our view, when any of the thousands of airmen working on Minot Air Force Base are threatened, they threaten all of us.

Minot Air Force Base is technically 16 miles north of Minot, but for decades the air base has been a key part of what we are in Minot. We are proud of the work being done on the base, we are proud of the airmen who temporarily call our community home. We are happy many of the airmen live as our neighbors and become our friends.

When you threaten anyone at our air base, you threaten all of us. These aren’t anonymous names and faces here in Minot. They are part of us, and we will stand together.

As the federal government works to ensure its service members are safe, we stand as a community determined to help do the same.

The Minot Police Department sent out a statement late Monday promising to work with other agencies and Minot Air Force Base to ensure all the airmen in Minot are safe. The police also asked the community to keep its eyes open and to report any suspicious activity as soon as it is seen.

So as we move forward, confident in our federal and local law enforcement, that is what we will do. We won’t overreact, but we will be on the watch. With all of us paying attention, all our airmen will be safe and sound in the community we share.


The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, March 26, 2015

Referral attempt not a good idea

On March 20, Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed Senate Bill 2351 allowing exemptions to the state’s anti-corporate farming bill and ushering in a new era allowing restricted corporate dairy and swine operations.

Supporters of the law see this as an opportunity to rejuvenate the dairy and hog industries in North Dakota, both of which have fallen to all-time lows.

Opponents fear this is the beginning of the end of the family farm in our state and are considering a petition drive to refer the legislation to voters.

We think a referral attempt would be a bad move.

The bill as signed was a compromise between a desire to preserve traditional family farms in North Dakota, while rejuvenating the states declining dairy and swine industries

As reported in the Bismarck Tribune on March 22, North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring feels loosening the state’s current 83-year-old anti-corporate farming law may help fend off legal challenges to corporate farming restrictions as whole.

Anti-corporate farming laws in other farm states challenged in recent years have not fared well in courts. In South Dakota, their 1998 corporate farming ban was struck down by a federal judge because it interfered with interstate commerce.

We agree with the commissioner that a referral of the new law could open North Dakota to legal challenges well beyond the new limits SB2351 allow.

Beyond that, one could argue that corporate farming has been present in the state for a long time, with restrictions based more on residency requirements. Previous to the passage of SB2351, corporate farming law in North Dakota allowed family-held corporations of up to 15 shareholders, as long as they are related by blood or marriage. It did not require that all of the shareholders live in the state.

In effect, a corporation is a corporation.

With the new law, non-family owned corporations for dairy and swine operations with guidelines, will be granted the same considerations as family-owned corporations in the state.

The harsh reality is the two industries for which the farming rules are being relaxed, are already in trouble. Federal ag data show a drop in the number of North Dakota dairy farms - from 350 in 2002 to only 91 today.

Numbers are dropping because the cost of running a dairy operation on a smaller scale, typically exceeds price received for milk.

According to Goehring, a dairy operation often needs to be milking 600 to 800 cows to break even, and a 1,600-head dairy operation takes several million dollars to start.

As reported in the Jan 18 Tribune - one milk processing facility in central North Dakota has been operating at a 600-cow-a-day deficit, forcing it to import milk into the state. That drives up consumer prices.

The hog industry is facing similar losses, declining from 280,000 hogs in 1995 to 139,000 in 201

Protecting a way of life, in this case family farms, is something that resonates with many North Dakotans. The family farm, and how it contributes to the state’s economy, is certainly understood and appreciated.

Those unhappy with new corporate farming legislation in the state, would be wise to proceed with caution. Corporate farming law in North Dakota, in its entirety, could be at risk otherwise.


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