North Dakota - Vote No On Measure #1

Citizens are told that their long-held values are getting in the way of progress, or that the family farm is obsolete. But the truth is just the opposite: Corporate farming is destroying our present; the family farm is our future…

Willie Nelson and Sarah Vogel (Grand Forks (ND) Herald Op-Ed, June 8, 2016… also published in the Fargo (ND) Forum)*

On June 14, North Dakota voters will have the opportunity to protect North Dakota’s proud heritage of family farm and ranch agriculture by voting NO on Measure #1 to preserve North Dakota’s corporate farming law.

I’ve written, many times, about the importance of state anti-corporate farming laws. And I urge all our North Dakota friends to vote for family farmers and ranchers by voting NO on Measure #1 on Tuesday, June 14. However, instead of going on at length about why you should vote NO on Measure #1, I think that today I’ll borrow the words of my good friends Sarah and Willie (courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald and the Fargo Forum, that both published their Op-Ed this week).

Why fight for family farmers? Because family farmers are stewards of the land, key threads in the fabric of our rural communities and local economies. They support us in ways that can't be done by distant corporations that are looking out first and foremost for their own bottom line.

North Dakota is unique in its commitment to family farm agriculture. For 84 years, that commitment has been enshrined in a state law affirming that our land belongs in the hands of people, and that farming should stay in the family—not corporations.

Measure 1 attacks that commitment and the very soul of North Dakota.

Efforts to undo long-standing laws such as North Dakota's anti-corporate farming law are about increasing corporate profits and the control of corporations over our farm and food system. It's about hastening farm consolidation and squeezing every profit possible out of the soil, water, animals and people of rural America in order to fill Wall Street's coffers.

It is yet another step in a long push to remove family farms from the American landscape.

Thanks Sarah, thanks Willie, for reminding all of us what is most important about this fight. The eyes of rural and small town Americans everywhere are upon North Dakota as the you approach this crucial vote on June 14.

While many believe that family farmers and ranchers, led by North Dakota Farmers Union, are winning this battle, one thing remains certain—we need your vote, and the votes of thousands of North Dakotans like you, to preserve North Dakota’s family farm and ranch legacy.

Get out and vote, and vote NO on Measure #1… run with the little guys, you’ll never regret it, that I promise you… John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs

* Singer, songwriter, actor and activist Nelson is president of Farm Aid, In 1989, he was named an honorary North Dakota Centennial Farmer. Vogel is a former two-term North Dakota commissioner of agriculture and has been working as a lawyer for family farmers and ranchers in North Dakota and elsewhere since the 1980s.