Leadership Training Helps Equip Members of New Ag LLCs

James H. Jensen, field management specialist
Jeff Zacharakis-Jutz

The state of Iowa has been promoting the value-added concept for a number of years now as a method of combating the low profits associated with growing commodity crops. Progress in expanding the value-added sector of the Iowa economy has been slow. A few groups are attempting to organize and enter the value-added arena, but most lack experience in both group interaction and the process of working together to help everyone involved. Iowa farmers are very independent by nature and not accustomed to working in groups. These new value-added groups need assistance in establishing and operating a value-added business.


Iowa State University Extension has been assisting new start-up agriculture organizations by offering organizational development assistance to further promote value-added production. Limited Liability Corporations (LLC) seem to be the organizational method of choice at the present time. Iowa State University Extension designed and offered a series of three-day leadership training that dealt directly with the problems being experienced by start-up agricultural LLCs. Training topics included: conflict resolution, legal aspects of LLCs, protecting assets, bargaining as a unit, running effective meetings, finding your mission, and identifying and using individual members strengths. Regionally and nationally respected speakers were recruited to present these sessions. Funding to pay the speakers was obtained through grants.

Thirty-two individuals from two statewide LLCs received instruction in essential areas related to successfully organizing and maintaining an LLC. The information was taken back to the 60 members of the combined groups and has been used extensively. The groups have continued to expand their organizations and developed a more business-like approach to the mission of their organizations. A major outcome from this project is that these two LLCs have come back to ISU Extension for additional assistance. A second major outcome is that the success of this project has further established the important role that ISU Extension has in the development and support of value-added agriculture in Iowa.

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