Case Law Index Corporate Farming and Land Ownership Laws

October 1, 1879 – April 2, 2023

This index provides a comprehensive though not necessarily exhaustive compilation of reported and unreported federal and state court decisions involving the Corporate Farming and Land Ownership Laws that were decided between the dates listed above. The cases are listed in reverse chronological order. The “Text” link goes to the freely available Google Scholar text of the opinion. These listings are for educational purposes only and are not a substitute for legal counsel.


Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm’n, 334 U.S. 410, 68 S. Ct. 1138, 92 L. Ed. 1478 (1948) (distinguishing this case from previous cases addressing the issue of the power of the states to control tenure of real property within its borders) Text

Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633, 68 S. Ct. 269, 92 L. Ed. 249 (1948) (alien land law violated the rights of citizens who were children of ineligible aliens and discriminated against such citizens solely because of their parents’ ancestry) Text

Asbury Hosp. v. Cass County, 326 U.S. 207 (U.S. 1945) (constitutionality) Text

Morrison v. People of State of California, 291 U.S. 82, 54 S. Ct. 281, 78 L. Ed. 664 (1934) (reverse ineligible alien’s conviction of conspiring to owning agricultural land in violation of the state’s alien land law) Text

Frick v. Webb, 263 U.S. 326, 44 S. Ct. 115, 68 L. Ed. 323 (1923) (states may forbid direct and indirect ownership and control of agricultural land by ineligible aliens) Text

Webb v. O’Brien, 263 U.S. 313, 44 S. Ct. 112, 68 L. Ed. 318 (1923) (no constitutional right of an alien is infringed by a state restriction on land ownership) Text

Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197, 44 S. Ct. 15, 68 L. Ed. 255 (1923) (absent a federal treaty, states may restrict aliens right to acquire and own land) Text

Porterfield v. Webb, 263 U.S. 225, 44 S. Ct. 21, 68 L. Ed. 278 (1923) (affirmed lower court’s finding that state restricting on alien land ownership does not violate the constitution or treaty) Text

Blythe v. Hinckley, 180 U.S. 333, 21 S. Ct. 390, 45 L. Ed. 557 (1901) (absent any treaty to the contrary, each state has the power to deny aliens the right to own land within its borders) Text

Hauenstein v. Lynham, 100 U.S. 483, 25 L. Ed. 628 (1879) (in the absence of overriding treaties, state statute restricting transfer of property to aliens upheld) Text


Griffin v. Smithfield Foods, Inc., 183 F.Supp. 2d 824 (E.D. Va. 2002) Text


De Tenorio v. Lightsey, 589 F.2d 911 (5th Cir. 1979) (nonresident alien not entitled to land inherit land under state law) Text



N.D. Farm Bureau, Inc. v. Stenehjem, 333 F. Supp. 3d 900 (D.N.D. 2018) (North Dakota corporate farming statute violates dormant Commerce Clause) Text

Nat’l Audubon Soc’y, Inc. v. Stenehjem, No. 3:09-CV-112, 2010 WL 2231809 (D.N.D. May 26, 2010) (federal court abstained from asserting jurisdiction in deciding constitutional issues concerning North Dakota’s corporate farming statute because relief requested would interfere with pending state proceedings in a way that would offend principles of comity and federalism)

Jones v. Gale, 470 F.3d 1261 (8th Cir. 2006) Text

Jones v. Gale, 405 F.Supp. 2d 1066 (D.Neb. 2005) (constitutionality)Text

Smithfield Foods, Inc. v. Miller, 241 F. Supp. 2d 978 (S.D. Iowa 2003), vacated by Smithfield Foods, Inc. v. Miller, 367 F.3d 1061 (8th Cir. 2004) (finding that Iowa’s corporate pork processing law was unconstitutional)

South Dakota Farm Bureau, Inc. v. Hazeltine, 340 F.3d 583 (8th Cir. 2003) (constitutionality) Text

South Dakota Farm Bureau, Inc. v. Hazeltine, 202 F.Supp. 2d 1020 (D.S.D. 2002) Text

von Kerssenbrock-Praschma v. Saunders, 121 F.3d 373 (8th Cir. 1997) Text

MSM Farms, Inc. v. Spire, 927 F.2d 330 (8th Cir. 1991) (constitutionality) Text

Shames v. State of Neb., 323 F. Supp. 1321 (D. Neb. 1971), aff’d sub nom. Shames v. Nebraska, 408 U.S. 901, 92 S. Ct. 2478, 33 L. Ed. 2d 321 (1972) (state law restricting nonresident aliens from inherit land more than three miles from corporate limits of any city or town does not constitute an impermissible interference with federal power over foreign affairs) Text


Simler v. Wilson, 210 F.2d 99 (10th Cir. 1953) (prohibition against accepting, receiving and owning realty by religious corporation) Text

Bailey v. Banister, 200 F.2d 683 (10th Cir. 1952) (action against railway company for bidding for Indian’s land) Text

State of Okl. ex rel. McVey v. Magnolia Petroleum Co., 114 F.2d 111 (10th Cir. 1940) (State’s action to escheat lands) Text

Knoell v. Frisco Lease, 78 F.2d 286 (10th Cir. 1935) (limitations on the quantity of land which a railroad corporation may own) Text


Ex parte Decker, 65 Ariz. 122, 175 P.2d 204 (1946) (testimony failed to make case of conspiracy under the state’s alien land law) Text

Takiguchi v. State, 47 Ariz. 302, 55 P.2d 802 (1936) (state law prohibiting ineligible aliens from owning or possessing agricultural lands within the state does not violate any clause or provision of the state or federal constitutions) Text


Haruye Masaoka v. People, 39 Cal. 2d 883, 245 P.2d 1062 (1952) (ruling state’s alien land law violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) Text

Fujii v. State, 38 Cal. 2d 718, 242 P.2d 617 (1952) (holding that the state’s alien land law violations the 14th Amendment) Text

People v. Morrison, 218 Cal. 287, 22 P.2d 718 (1933), rev’d sub nom. Morrison v. People of State of California, 291 U.S. 82, 54 S. Ct. 281, 78 L. Ed. 664 (1934) (ineligible alien owner of agricultural land convicted of conspiring to violate state’s alien land law) Text

In re Nose, 195 Cal. 91, 231 P. 561 (1924) (upholding state’s alien land law) Text


Cramer v. McCann, 83 Kan. 719, 112 P. 832 (1911) (resident citizens unable to inherit land by descent)

Madden v. State, 68 Kan. 658, 75 P. 1023 (1904) (in a state’s escheat action under the alien land law, heirs of resident citizen are estopped by their ancestor’s warranty deed to a nonresident alien from making a claim)

Smith v. Lynch, 61 Kan. 609, 60 P. 329 (1900) (holding state alien land act restricts resident from inheriting land from a nonresident alien


Commonwealth ex rel. Att’y Gen. v. Tamer, 293 Ky. 357, 169 S.W.2d 19 (1943) (state escheat real property of an alien owner)

Ripley v. Von Zedtwitz, 201 Ky. 513, 256 S.W. 1106 (1923) (state statute confirms the right of any nonresident alien and confers the additional right to hold the property for eight years against the state)


Rabbe v. Farmers State Bank of Trimont, A-18-1845, 2019 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 543 (Minn. Ct. App. June 10 2019) (finding that grain storage is not part of production under Minn. corporate farming law) Text

Minnwest Bank, M.V. v. Molenaar, No. A05-1161, 2006 WL 1390323 (Minn. App. May 23, 2006)  Text

R.L. Hexum & Associates, Inc. v. Rochester Twp., Bd. of Sup’rs, 609 N.W.2d 271 (Minn. Ct. App. 2000) (applicability of corporate and partnership farming law)   Text

Wacek v. Vavricka, C8-95-459, 1995 WL 538664 (Minn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 1995) (failure to extend the right of first refusal prior to the sale)

Seehusen v. First Am. Bank & Trust of Willmar, C3-94-2609, 1995 WL 365360 (Minn. Ct. App. June 20, 1995) (failure to extend the right of first refusal after foreclosure)

Peterson v. Island, C4-94-2425, 1995 WL 118895 (Minn. Ct. App. Mar. 21, 1995) (interference with a land purchase, the right of first refusal)

Hommerding v. Travelers Ins. Co., C6-94-1843, 1995 WL 6438 (Minn. Ct. App. Jan. 10, 1995) (claim of statutory violations, fraud and negligence)

Kjesbo v. Ricks, 517 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. 1994) (foreclosure, statutory first right of refusal)   Text

Farm Credit Bank of St. Paul v. Michels, 513 N.W.2d 7 (Minn. Ct. App. 1994) (right of first refusal, “immediately preceding former owners”)  Text

Resolution Trust Corp. v. Lipton, 983 F.2d 901 (8th Cir. 1993) (partnership was not “family farm,” and thus was not qualified debtor)


Turner v. Turner, 612 So. 2d 1141 (Miss. 1993) (claim that alien could not take by descent and distribution could not be raised for the first time on appeal) Text

State v. Roell, 192 Miss. 873, 7 So. 2d 867 (1942) (construing statute relating to suit to quiet title based on tax forfeited land resulting from nonresident alien purchase of state land against law concerning payment of inadequate consideration for state lands)

State v. Russell, 185 Miss. 13, 187 So. 540 (1939) (foreign entity indicted for conspiracy to defraud the state to acquire title to state land)

State v. Scot. Am. Mortg. Co., 111 Miss. 98, 71 So. 291 (1916) (alien who rescinds a contract selling land to residents does not thereby become a purchaser at a sale to enforce the payment of a debt)

Scot. Am. Mortg. Co. v. Butler, 99 Miss. 56, 54 So. 666 (1911) (nonresident alien mortgagee obtained possession through tenants, though under an invalid sale, secured a perfect title as against mortgagors)


State ex rel. Nixon v. Premium Std. Farms, 100 S.W.3d 157 (Mo. Ct. App. 2003) (holding that cattle grazing is included in the Missouri corporate farming statutes) Text

Neighbors Against Large Swine Operations v. Continental Grain Co., 901 S.W.2d 127 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995) (holding that Missouri corporate farming act provides a private right of action in limited circumstances only) Text

State ex rel. Webster v. Lehndorff Geneva, Inc., 744 S.W.2d 801 (Mo. 1988) (divestiture of land under Missouri corporate farming statute) Text

Wyers v. Arnold, 347 Mo. 413, 147 S.W.2d 644 (1941) (federal treaty supersedes state restriction law)

In re Rahn’s Est., 316 Mo. 492, 291 S.W. 120 (1926) (bequest of land by alien is void under state law)

Pembroke v. Huston, 180 Mo. 627, 79 S.W. 470 (1904) (alien did not perfect title to land because he did not declare to become naturalized as required by state statute)


State v. Oakland, 129 Mont. 347, 287 P.2d 39 (1955) (state’s alien land law found unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) Text


Hall v. Progress Pig, Inc., 610 N.W.2d 420 (Neb. 2000) (holding that the Nebraska constitutional amendment on corporate farming does not violate the US Constitution) Text

Hall v. Progress Pig, Inc., 254 Neb. 150, 575 N.W.2d 369 (1998) (Nebraska citizens have standing to bring enforcement action of the state’s corporate farming law if an attorney general or surrogate fails to commence an action) Text

In re James’ Est., 192 Neb. 614, 223 N.W.2d 481 (1974) (nonresident alien heirs entitled to compensation from the state for escheated land) Text


Smithberg v. Smithberg, 2019 ND 195, 931 N.W.2d 211 (corporate farming law did not operate to bar brother’s claims against siblings and family farm corporation under the Business Corporation Act) Text

Stenehjem ex rel. State v. Nat’l Audubon Soc’y, Inc., 2014 ND 71, 844 N.W.2d 892 (organization did not have unclean hands of sort that prevented invocation of laches as result of its violation of corporate farming law) Text

State v. Liberty Nat. Bank & Tr. Co., 427 N.W.2d 307 (N.D. 1988) (held three-year divestiture period contained in state’s corporate farming statute was not preempted by five-year divestiture period contained in National Bank Act) Text

Bank of Steele v. Lang, 399 N.W.2d 293 (N.D. 1987) (application of state corporate farming law to banks in foreclosure proceedings) Text

Coal Harbor Stock Farm v. Meier, 191 N.W.2d 583 (N.D. 1971) (holding state corporate farming law to provide equal protection) Text

Asbury Hosp. v. Cass Cty., 16 N.W.2d 523 (N.D. 1944) (holding that state corporate farming laws did not violate state or federal constitutions)


Namba v. McCourt, 185 Or. 579, 204 P.2d 569 (1949) (state law withholding the right to acquire an interest in land from aliens not covered by treaty is invalid as denying equal protection and due process) Text


State v. McGonigle, 142 Wash. 465, 253 P. 655 (1927) (information for conspiracy to violate the state’s alien land law, which failed to show means of conspiracy, was held defective)


Lehndorff Geneva, Inc. v. Warren, 74 Wis. 2d 369, 246 N.W.2d 815 (1976) (holding state’s restriction on foreign business entities and corporations from acquiring or owning more than 640 acres of land within the state does not violate equal protection rights under the federal or state constitutions) Text