Lies settles into ND Farm Bureau post

DOUGLAS, N.D. -- Daryl Lies is settling into his new job as the 15th president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau. NDFB members cast a unanimous ballot for the farmer and entrepreneur at the NDFB annual meeting Nov. 14. Lies succeeded Doyle Johannes...

Daryl Lies

DOUGLAS, N.D. -- Daryl Lies is settling into his new job as the 15th president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau.

NDFB members cast a unanimous ballot for the farmer and entrepreneur at the NDFB annual meeting Nov. 14. Lies succeeded Doyle Johannes of Underwood, N.D., who had served four years, leading a group that claims 27,000 members in 50 organized county Farm Bureaus.

Lies, 42, graduated from Garrison (N.D.) High School in 1991, and later the World Wide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa. For the past three years, he also served as a staffer for Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

Lies has about 50 sows in a farrow-to-finish operation, focused on the seedstock and show pig business, catering to 4-H and FFA members in a six-state area. His family puts on a sale in which a majority of the hogs are sold in the spring at the state fairgrounds in Minot. He also has about 40 ewes for raising market lambs and meat-breed goats to sell to youth for showing.

In 1995, Lies competed in a Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. He won at the state level and competed at the American Farm Bureau Federation level. He became a McLean County Farm Bureau board member, and served as a delegate to statewide meetings in Minot, Bismarck and Fargo. He became county president and served as the District 6 director for northwest counties.


"I've always been a strong believer in the philosophical principles and beliefs of the Farm Bureau," Lies says. "Self-reliance, property rights, kind of go to the core of what Farm Bureau is about."

Currently, the organization is concerned over the "increasing overreach" of the government, including the Environmental Protection Agency and its Waters of the United States proposal. NDFB members are emphatic that they don't want WOTUS and want "EPA out of our lives, out of agriculture, out of our state," and want the organization's leaders to "start standing up even harder" against excessive regulation.

EPA anxieties

The NDFB is concerned about overregulation extending to state and even local government units. The NDFB has been opposed to such ideas as the Places of Extraordinary Significance policies that would limit oil drilling and other economic development activity within viewscape buffer zones of parks and other natural places.

"Where was it going to stop?" Lies says. "Mineral development? Wind power? Was it going to stop at building new buildings on your farmstead if you lived within that two-mile barrier? Where does the end come when you start infringing on any property rights?"

The NDFB is a free market organization and has always thought North Dakota's anti-corporate farming laws "infringe on our ability to utilize our property, or sell our property, or invest in our private property." The NDFB has not taken a firm position on a referral of exemptions for swine and dairy farms that was passed by the North Dakota Legislature in 2015. The North Dakota Farmers Union opposed the exemptions and collected signatures to put the matter to a vote on June 14, 2016.

Lies calls the exemptions to the statewide law "modest," but is selective and "kind of picks winners and losers" among farmers, and even among livestock farmers. Right now, farmers can have corporate farms that are  family-owned, but existing farms in the state are "bumping up against the kinship rule" in the law, limiting the companies to first cousins.



"We have (situations where) second-cousins can't take over farms" because they're not closely enough related to meet the anti-corporate farming law, Lies says. "They're going to have to disperse that farm. That's an issue. People say they want to save the family farm: Those are families they want to break up with our overreaching law here in North Dakota."

Another concern is the North Dakota Industrial Commission has freed up $300 million of potential "farm relief" money through the Bank of North Dakota. Lies says the NDFB is studying whether the bank's plan to buy-down bad farm loans is true farm relief or a "banker bailout" that protects lenders who lent excessively.

This is the first year of depressed farm prices, he says, so it's too soon to "prop up farmers, prop up rents" in ways that make it difficult for younger farmers to enter the market.

"We need the natural flows of a free market system," Lies says.

Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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