Family vs. Corporate Farming


Crystal raises cattle and crops with her family outside Columbus, Nebraska.

It’s imperative for consumers to know we care about the land — we live here, too. We care about our water — we drink it, too. We care about our animals — what they eat and the care they receive— because we eat the same meat, too.

Crystal Klug
Columbus, Neb.
Crystal Klug, Columbus, Neb.

What is the difference between family farming and corporate farming?

Crystal: I think sometimes when people hear the term “family farm,” they picture a small, quaint scene from yesteryear with a farmer holding a pitchfork and wearing overalls. Conversely, for some, “corporate farm” might translate to the mental image of a giant, industrial farm with no soul or code of ethics. Many are surprised to know that family farms have incorporated as a business but are still operated by families living and working on the land. In fact, 98% of all farms are family farms. Most of today’s farmers are college-educated, ready to embrace innovation and the latest science and technology to improve sustainability.

Q: Do large corporate entities control family farms?

Crystal: A popular misconception is that large corporations have taken over rural America. They might play a role in how smaller businesses market products and services, but they do not control other farms.

Think about the dynamic of your own community and the businesses in it. You might have a Walmart or a Walgreens, but you also have all different sizes of smaller niche stores from a flower shop, to a clothing boutique. Just like small businesses in your community, no two farms are alike or managed the same way.

Q: Why would a family incorporate their farm?

Crystal: One huge reason to incorporate a farm is to create a business entity with liability protection. Farming is a dangerous profession involving a lot of heavy machinery. Forming a corporation or limited liability company provides a layer of protection for farmers. Families also might consider incorporating for tax and estate planning purposes.

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CornsTalk is a newsletter produced by the Nebraska Corn Board that covers important subjects and provides regular updates on various programs of interest to corn growers and others.