Business Organizations



The practice 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

Forms and Filing Information: Business Organizations (2019)
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)
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

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

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 (USDA)

Rural Business & Cooperative Service

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Choosing a Structure

Other Federal Resources

Business USA

Starting a Nonprofit (

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.)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Types of Business Structures (WA State Licensing)
Ag Risk Education Library

What Business Model Should I Use to Grow (Boehlje & Langemeier, 2018)
Assessing and Managing Strategic Risk (Boehlie & Langemeier, 2017)
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)
Transferring Business Ownership (Hofstrand, 2007)
Business Entity Planning (Thompson & Hayenga, 2002)

Choosing the Right Business Entity (Kunkel & Wick, 2015)
Selecting a Business Structure: An Informational Guide to Forming Businesses (Williams, Barton & Coltrane, 2000)
How to Organize your Business (U. ME Extension)
Legal Forms and Traditional Structures of U.S. Business Organizations
Managing a Farm  (U. of Minn. Extension)


Farm Bill: Crop programs and Dairy Margin Protection Program
Farm Finance: Balance sheet, income statements, ratios, budgets
Farmland Rent and Economics: Rental rates and land values by county, flexible land rental agreements
Farm Tax and Legal: Tax and legal impacts for various situations
Transfer and Estate Planning: Passing the farm business and other assets to the next generation
Women in Ag Network: Provides educational and networking opportunities
Events: Workshops, conferences and other learning opportunities

Farming Systems

AgroforestryForest farming, windbreaks, alley cropping
Small Farms: Information on running a one- to 40-acre farm

Get Help

Farm Financial Counseling: Experiencing financial stress? Get free, confidential financial counseling
Farmer-Lender Mediation: Need help with farm debt? Learn how mediation can help.
Resources for Difficult Time: Find help, counseling, advocacy, legal and referral resources


Farm safety: Stress management, extreme weather, equipment, livestock
Growing Safe Food: On-farm food safety, GAPs audits, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
Pesticide Safety and CertificationPesticide education for private, noncommercial and commercial applicators

International Chamber of Commerce
Ag Decision Tools – New Business Development (IA St. Extension)
Farmdoc Ag Links (U. of IL Extension)
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 Ag
National Business Innovation Association
Ag Decision Tools – New Business Development (IA St. Ext. Ag Decision Maker)
K-State Research and Extension – Agricultural Economics
Farm Business & Transition Planning
Business Development
Kansas Small Business Development Center (Fort Hays State University)
Alaska Business Licensing
Arizona Commerce Authority
Arkansas Business and Commercial Services
California Secretary of State – Business Programs
California Business Portal – Choose a Business Structure
Colorado Business Organizations Homepage
Colorado Department of Revenue – Business Income Tax; Organizational Structure
Connecticut State Dept. of Revenue – New Business Portal
Delaware Division of Corporations – How to Form a New Business Entity
Florida Division of Corporations
Hawaii Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs – Business Registration
Idaho Secretary of State’s Office – Business Services
Idaho Business Legal Structure
Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity – Small Business Assistance
Illinois Small Business Development Center (Southern Illinois University)
Indiana Business Owner’s Guide
INBiz (State of Indiana)
Kentucky One Stop Business Portal
geauxBIZ (Louisiana Secretary of State)
Louisiana Secretary of State Business Services
Maine Department of the Secretary of State – Corporations
State of Maryland Business Resources
Maryland Checklist for New Businesses (MD Dept. of Assessments and Taxation)
Massachusetts Business Resources
Business and Liens Page (Minnesota Sec. of State)
Business Page (Minnesota Employment and Economic Development)
Mississippi Business Services Division (MS Sec. of State)
Missouri Business Services (MO Sec. of State)
Montana Business Services (MT Sec. of State)
Business Checklist (MT Governor’s Office of Economic Development)
Nebraska Business Services (NE Sec. of State)
Businesses Page (NV Sec. of State)
New Hampshire Business Information (NH Sec. of State)
Business Page (NH Dept. of Revenue Administration)
New Jersey Business Information
New Mexico Business Portal
New Mexico Business Services (NM Sec. of State)
New York State Division of Corporations, State Records & UCC
North Carolina Business Registration Page (NC Sec. of State)
North Dakota Business Services (ND Sec. of State)
Ohio Business Services (OH Sec. of State)
Oklahoma Business Services (OK Sec. of State)
Oregon Business Xpress
Oregon Business Services (OR Sec. of State)
Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop
Rhode Island Business Services (RI Sec. of State)
South Carolina Business One Stop
South Dakota Division of Business Services (SD Sec. of State)
Tennessee Business Services (TN Sec. of State)
Texas Business Services (TX Sec. of State)
Utah Business Page
Utah Div. of Corporations and Commercial Code Business Entities Page
Vermont Business and Corporate Page (VT Agency of Administration; Dept. of Taxes)
Vermont Business Services (VT Sec. of State)
Virginia State Corporation Commission
Virginia Business One Stop
Washington Businesses (WA Dep. of Revenue)
Washington Small Business Guidance
West Virginia Business Division (WV Sec. of State)
West Virginia One Stop Business Portal
Wisconsin Corporations (WI Dept. of Financial Institutions)
Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue Business Information


Ag Law & Tax Blog (McEowen)
The Small Partnership ‘Exception’ (McEowen, 2017)
Employing Children in the Family Farming Business (McEowen, 2017)
Farmer Toolkit (ASAP, 2017)
USDA’s Actively Engaged in Farming (AEF) Requirement (Schnepf, 2016)
Business Structure for Small Farms: A Quick Guide (Backman, 2015)
Agricultural Leasing in Maryland (Goeringer, 2013)
General Partnership Agreements for Cattle Producers (Rincker, 2010)
Partnership Agreements for Farmers, Agri-businesses and Food Entrepreneurs (Rincker, 2014)
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
Small Business Law: Incorporation and Legal Structures
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)
Best Entity for Your Business (Haislet)