Understanding corporate structures and family farms

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:49 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 11:45 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - We caught up with a Common Ground volunteer near Minatare recently, to talk about the differences between corporate farms and family farms.

Brittany Fulton runs a sheep operation with her family. “Corporate farming and family farming is a very popular topic right now,” Fulton said. “In our world here on our operation, it’s really one and the same. I can’t say that for all operations. They might be different. No operation is alike. But for us, our family is a corporation. We have a corporation because we want business structure within our farm.” Fulton says there are benefits to having a corporate structure on the family farm. “For us, it helps with estate planning and farm transition,” Fulton said. “This is so we know what’s going on here on the farm. If something were to happen to a family member, we know what’s going to happen with the corporation. We have a plan in place.”

The message Brittany Fulton shared with us during our visit to her farm was that while there may be a corporate structure on a farm, family members are usually still running it and doing the work. “Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, just like what we are standing on today,” Fulton said. “We are out here doing the day-to-day work. We are doing the chores, running the sheep through the alleyways to give them vaccinations, and we work them.”

Fulton says her family runs a Polypay sheep herd. “The ewes are known for their meat and wool, and also their prolificacy, which means they have multiple births,” Fulton said. “We also participate in an accelerated lambing program, and what that means is we are lambing every eight months.” Fulton says her family’s operation has diversified over the years. They used to have cattle, row crops, hay and forage. “But in the last few years, we have downsized to mainly focus on the sheep,” Fulton said. “It makes sense for us, and it’s what we are all interested in.”

Fulton says consumers should not fear that corporations are running family farms. “We are running our operation as a family, and our neighbors are all doing the same as well.”

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