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 Taxes, 26 U.S.C. Subtitle A.

Internal Revenue Code, Employment Taxes, 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

States’ Agricultural Cooperative Formation (NALC Staff, 2022)

Navigating Your Legal Duties: A Guide for Agricultural Cooperative Directors (Scott & Traxinger, 2021)

Forms and Filing Information: Business Organizations (NALC Staff, 2019)

Considerations for Operating Agreements (Ferrell, 2011)

A Snapshot of LLCs and Farming: How Farm Businesses have implemented the Limited Liability Company Structure in the Midwestern United States (Bachelor & Hall, 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, 2012)

Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers (National AgLaw Center & U. AR Division of Agriculture, 2011)

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

The Farmer’s Legal Guide to Producer Marketing Associations (O’Brien, Hamilton, & Luedeman, 2005)

Legal and Policy Considerations of Investor-Friendly Cooperatives (O’Brien, 2005)

An Introduction to the Federal Securities Laws As They Might Apply to Agricultural Operations (Goforth, 2004)

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 and Taxation

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)

Overview of Youth Employment

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)

Small Farm Funding Guide

Big River Farms – Growing Small Farms (Upper Midwest Specific)

Rural Development (USDA)

Cooperative Programs

Rural Cooperatives (2015)

How to Start a Cooperative (2011)

Rural Business & Cooperative Service

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Choose a Business Structure

Other Federal Resources

Small Business (

How to Start a Nonprofit (National Council of Nonprofits)

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

Choosing an Organizational Structure for Your Aquaculture Business

Additional Resources

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

SBDC State Links

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

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Ag Risk Education Library

Incorporation and Legal Structures (FindLaw, 2022)

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 (McNamara, 2022)

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

Farmdoc Agricultural Law (U. of IL Extension)

Farmdoc Agricultural Policy (U. of IL Extension)

Succession & Estate Planning (MI St. Extension)

Starting a Business (

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

United Ag

Farm Business & Transition Planning

California Office of the Small Business Advocate – Choose a Business Structure


Ag Law & Tax Blog (McEowen, 2023)

USDA’s Actively Engaged in Farming (AEF) Requirement (CRS, 2019)

The Small Partnership ‘Exception’ (McEowen, 2017)

Employing Children in the Family Farming Business (McEowen, 2017)

Farmer Toolkit (ASAP, 2017)

Business Structure for Small Farms: A Quick Guide (Backman, 2015)

Partnership Agreements for Farmers, Agri-businesses and Food Entrepreneurs (Rincker, 2014)

Agricultural Leasing in Maryland (Goeringer, 2013)

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, 2009)

Checklist for Obtaining Tax Exempt Status in Arkansas (Bridges, 2009)

Choosing a Business Structure (Sander and Lambert, 2007)

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

Best Entity for Your Business (Haislet)