Concern has developed about large out-of-state corporations that own agricultural land in South Dakota. Fears that such corporations may destroy family farms are often expressed. As a result legislation has been proposed which would prohibit such corporations from farming unless 51 percent of stock is owned by South Dakotans. Do present out-of-state corporations justify such fears? A survey recently made indicates that most out-of-state corporations lease their land to independent farmers. Those few that directly manage their land are not much if any different from the home-grown kind. Most appear to be held and operated by families. The survey was made by sending a questionnaire to 47 corporations with out-of-state addresses that owned agricultural land in South Dakota. The names were secured from county assessors and county ASCS offices by the South Dakota Farmers Union and made available for this study, twenty-five questionnaires (53 percent) were returned. Of these, 17 respondents said they leased the land to independent farmers. Only five said that they were directly manning or operating their lands. These facts are perhaps the most important found in this study. The same questionnaire was sent to 35 farms and ranches incorporated in South Dakota that were authorized to issue $500,000 or more of capital stock. This list was obtained from records of the Secretary of State at Pierre, South Dakota. Because any corporation with more than $100,000 of capital assets must be authorized to Issue $500,000 of capital stock, this Is Indeed a crude measure of size but was the only one available. Sixteen of the in-state questionnaires (46 percent) were returned. Of these, 10 said they were engaged directly in farm or ranch operations, two said they were not active and four said they were not farm or ranch corporations. To summarize, 82 questionnaires were mailed to firms and 41 were returned, Only 15 of the firms responding reported that they were directly managing or operating farms or ranches. Another 17 said that they were leasing land to Independent farmers or ranchers. These 17 were firms with out-of-state addresses although three had been incorporated under South Dakota laws.
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South Dakota State University
Berry, Russell L., "Some Corporations that Own Farm and Ranch Land in South Dakota" (1969). Agricultural Experiment Station Agricultural Economics Pamphlets. 141.