Kansas Farmers Divided on Corporate Agriculture

In the wake of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s sudden call for repeal of 80-year-old corporate farm regulations, farmers across the state are split.

For the last 80 years, Kansas state laws have limited the ability of corporations to enter the agricultural profession. Agricultural land ownership in Kansas is restricted to family farmers and small corporations with fewer than 15 stockholders.

The laws, which have evolved over nearly a century, were designed to stem the tide of farm centralization. Over the past 80 years, the number of small farmers in the US has gradually declined as more and more farm production in concentrated in the hands of major agribusinesses. These state laws were designed to limit these trends.

The Kansas farm community is divided on the governor’s proposed repeal of these laws. Some argue that increased business presence could help local farmers. Increased corporate livestock farming, for example, could increase feed consumption.

Other farmers, however, are concerned that increased agribusiness presence could present a major threat. The president of the Kansas Farmers Union, for example, stated that increased production not only threatens small farmers, but that the elimination of 10 to 20 small farms would negate the potential economic benefit of an increased corporate presence. “I’m ashamed of the governor,” said the president of the state’s Farmers Union.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer