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Help My Family Farm! Defining Roles and Sticking to Them

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employees-1.jpgWith multiple areas of responsibility and specific functions that are performed only once each agricultural season, it is imperative that a family farm have a formal organizational structure. Family dynamics come into play with any typical family; with a farming family, those dynamics are magnified as various roles stretch and blend from the home into the family farming business.


Why Develop an Organizational Structure?

Regardless of the size of your farming operation, you need an organizational structure that allows your business to operate optimally. That starts and stops with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all individuals in your operation. Everyone benefits from knowing where they fit in the grand scheme. Your employees will have a greater sense of value and will know where others fit as well, which eliminates confusion and enhances efficiency.


Getting Started

You know all the “jobs” that need to be done for your farm to be successful. If you sit down and pencil out all those jobs within your farm operation, what they entail, and how they all interact with and depend on each other, I think you will be surprised at how expansive the structure really is. Create an organizational structure chart to be your formal arrangement of these jobs; think of it as a blueprint of the way your farm operation flows—the “who does what” for the foreseeable future. However, you should remain open to adjusting your organizational structure as your operation grows and as your employees grow, so your structure can evolve as your business evolves.

Before digging in to create your organizational structure, it’s important to bear a few things in mind. Think about all the functions within your operation. Typically, an agricultural consulting company such as FamilyFarms Group will tell you that a farming operation requires 6– 8 core functional areas. At a higher level, however, consider each of these four elements of your operation:


Employee Role and Classifications

Define each employee’s role, authority, and specialty. These classifications can determine benefits, hours, compensation, and job titles.


Reporting Lines

An organizational chart will clearly outline who reports to whom as well as provide insight into how each relationship fits into the big picture.


Chain of Command

Clarify to whom employees go if they have issues, need direction, or have questions in addition to who reports to whom.


Core Functional Areas

Consider these areas of your farm business and some of their key responsibilities:

Farm Operations

  • Agronomy
  • Crop/field operations
  • Grain storage
  • Logistics/transportation
  • Inventory control

Crop Sales & Grain Marketing

  • Crop sales
  • Government programs
  • Crop insurance
  • Grain inventory control

Business Marketing

  • Landowner relations
  • Acreage growth
  • Business development
  • PR

Technology / IT

  • Office and production technology
  • Communications systems
  • Security
  • Hardware and software

General & Administrative

  • Office management
  • HR
  • Accounting
  • Data entry

Capital & Financial Management

  • Budgets
  • Forecasting
  • Lender relations
  • Tax
  • Financial reporting


  • Family relations and conflict resolution
  • Culture creation
  • Succession and transition planning
  • Fiscal oversight


  • Goals
  • Planning
  • Business documents
  • Training

With these aspects of your business in mind, you are ready to sit down and start assigning names to boxes. Ultimately, you will define the reporting, decision-making structure, spending authority, chain of command, and delegation of authority for functional area. In addition, you will create a culture where all are accountable. There are no excuses or “that’s not my job” conflicts; it is all clearly defined.


Are you ready to maximize efficiencies and minimize conflicts? Let FamilyFarms Group help you establish a solid foundation for your evolving family farm. A well thought out and communicated organizational structure is a great start.

Our menu of agriculture services is comprehensive, and we customize services for each individual family farm we work with. We’d love to tell you how our agriculture solutions will work for you and your family farm. Let’s start with a needs assessment, and we’ll make sure our role on your farm is also clearly defined.

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Written By

Marty Turner

Marty Turner

Team Coach |

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