Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald  [Printer-friendly version]
December 20, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: In 1982, citizens of Nebraska voted to
prohibit corporations from farming in their state. Earlier this
month, a group of unelected judges voted to overturn the will of the
Nebraska citizenry and give corporations the same rights as the
individual humans who operate family farms.]

By Bill Hord

Lincoln, Nebraska --- A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of
Appeals in St. Louis today ruled that Nebraska's ban on corporate
farming is unconstitutional.

The panel upheld a ruling last year by U.S. District Judge Laurie
Smith Camp that struck down the ban, enacted as Initiative 300 (I-300)
by Nebraska voters in 1982.

I-300 has been considered the toughest restriction in the nation on
farming by non-family corporations. Its demise also could bring an end
to corporate farming bans in five other states.

Smith Camp had ruled that I-300 discriminated against out-of-state
investors by requiring that one member of a Nebraska family
corporation be involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm.

An appeal is nearly certain, said Nebraska Farmers Union president
John Hansen, one of the leading proponents of Initiative 300. "But
that decision has not been made yet," Hansen said. Hansen said the
panel's ruling was under review by the Attorney General's Office and
other lawyers who are involved as defenders of I-300.

Before Smith Camp's ruling last year, Initiative 300 had withstood
numerous court challenges over its 24-year life. "This is not a good
day," said Hansen.

The appeals panel upheld Smith Camp's determination that Initiative
300 violated a federal constitutional provision that limits how much
states can regulate interstate commerce.

An appeal would first go to the full 8th Circuit Court. If again
upheld, an appeal would go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The original case was brought by former State Sen. Jim Jones of
Eddyville and five others who said the ban restricted their right to
benefit from corporate business practices.