Business Organizations



The development of forming organizations for the purpose of doing business began centuries ago, but the twentieth century witnessed an explosion in both the number and types of business organizations available. From the simplest sole proprietorship to the most complex multinational corporation, the various business structures have evolved to meet the needs of society. The many types of business structures offer the flexibility required to fit the different needs of both business in general and businesses in agriculture specifically. Informal arrangements become sole proprietorships and partnerships, providing structure to business ventures as they grow. More formal arrangements are created at the state or national level, such as limited liability companies and corporations. These business organizations provide stability and protection to investors and officers while establishing guidelines within the organization and under the laws of the states in which they do business. Read the full overview

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Internal Revenue Code, Income Tax, 26 U.S.C. subtitle A.

Internal Revenue Code, Employment Tax, 26 U.S.C. subtitle C.

Aid to Small Business, 15 U.S.C. ch. 14A.

Small Business Investment Program, 15 U.S.C. ch. 14B.

Labor, Title 29 of the U.S.C.

Case Law

Case Law Index for Business Organizations

Center Research Publications

State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL @Urbana)

Using Alternative Enterprises and Recreational Development to Bolster Farm Income — Workbook (R. Rumley & Tullos)

Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers (National AgLaw Center & U. AR Division of Agriculture)

Legal Risk Management: Protecting Your Farm and Family – PowerPoint Presentation (Mirus, 2009)

Forms and Filing Information: Business Organizations (Rumley, 2009)

An Overview of Organizational and Ownership Options Available to Agricultural Enterprises, Part 1 (Goforth)

An Overview of Organizational and Ownership Options Available to Agricultural Enterprises, Part 2 (Goforth)

Congressional Research Service Reports

CRS Subject(s):

Estate Planning
Farm Labor
Finance and Credit

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on :

Agribusiness Corporations


Corporate Farming (Restrictions on Corporate Farming/Family Farm Preservation)


Estate Planning/Divorce

Organizational Forms for Agriculture (Business Law and Development)


Reference Resources

Department of Labor (DOL)

Youth in Agriculture

Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Briefing Room: Farm Structure and Organization

Briefing Room: Farm Risk Management

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Agriculture Tax Center

Tax Information for Businesses

Sole Proprietor



Limited Liability Companies

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Starting a Small Business

Small Farm Funding Resources

Rural Development

Rural Business & Cooperative Service

Small Business Association (SBA)

Choosing a Structure

Other Federal Resources

Business USA

Nonprofits (

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission – Filings and Forms

Choosing an Organizational Structure for Your Aquaculture Business

Additional Resources

Small Business Development Center

State Links

Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (IA St. U.)

Business Organization Forms (Ohio St. U.)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Types of Business Structures (WA State Licensing)

Ag Risk Education Library

Beginning Farmer: Transfers, Agreements & Structures (Hawbaker, 2008)
Beginning Farmer: Questions to Ask About Partnership (Hawbaker, 2008)
Starting, Organizing, and Managing an LLC for a Farm Business (Moore, 2008)
Using Liability Limiting Entities to Manage Liability Exposure for Ohio Farms (Moore & Ward, 2008)
Transferring Business Ownership (Hofstrand, 2007)
Business Entity Planning (Thompson & Hayenga, 2002)
Selecting a Business Structure (Williams, Barton and Coltrain, 2000)

How to Organize your Business (U. ME Extension)

Legal Forms and Traditional Structures of U.S. Business Organizations

Business Structure Strategies (Cornell U. Extension)

International Chamber of Commerce

Ag Decision Tools – New Business Development (IA St. Extension)

Farmdoc Ag Links (U. of IL Extension)

Minority Owned Business Organizations

Estate Planning and Business Succession (MI St. Extension)

Starting a Business (

Business Tools (SCORE:”Counselors to America’s Small Business”)

Better Business Bureau

American Bar Association – Section of Business Law

United Agribusiness League

National Business Incubation Association

Ag Decision Tools – New Business Development (IA St. Ext. Ag Decision Maker)


General Partnership Agreements for Cattle Producers (Rincker, 2010)

501(c)(3) – Do You Need It? How To Get It. How To Keep It! (Tarvin & Bridges, U. of AR)

Checklist for Obtaining Tax Exempt Status in Arkansas (Bridges, U. of AR)

Filing Requirements for Partnerships and LLCs that Are Taxed as Partnerships

Income Tax Consequences of Changing Business Entity

ABA Family Legal Guide – Forming and Operating a Small Business

Choosing a Business Structure (Sander and Lambert, 2007)

The ABCs of LLCs: Limited Liability Companies Offer New Option for Rural Businesses (Frederick 1997)

Cooperative Programs (1998)

How to Start a Cooperative (Rapp & Ely, 1996)

Use of LLC-Cooperative Statutes: Status of New Business Formation in Wyoming, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Iowa Organized Through 2005 (Kennedy & Frederick)

The Important Role of Non-Organization Law (Ribstein 2005)

Should You Use an LLC for Your Small Business? (Nelson)