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Strengthen your farm's resiliency with legal training for Illinois small farms

Farmer walking through checking a growing wheat field

URBANA, Ill. — Legal risks can be fatal to a farm business and addressing them proactively can keep farms in business. The relief of understanding legal issues can dispel anxiety and help farmers realize their power to control their circumstances.

University of Illinois Extension partners with Farm Commons for a four-part quarterly webinar series, “Legal Training for Illinois Small Farms,” featuring topics around legal questions for all Illinois farmers.

Farm Commons is a nonprofit organization that assists farmers in solving business law challenges in a community of support. It was founded by Executive Director Rachel Armstrong, who created the organization’s innovative approach to farm law risk reduction. She has authored publications on farm law matters for farmers, alongside several academic and trade publications for attorneys. Farm Commons staff will lead the interactive workshops, including time for questions from participants.

There is no cost to register for the series. Each session begins at 7 p.m. and lasts for one hour. Individuals who have farmed for years can learn tips to strengthen their legal confidence in running their farming operation.

The four Legal Training for Illinois Small Farm sessions include:

June 26: Exploring the H-2A Visa Program 
The H-2A visa program helps farmers bring citizens of other countries to the United States for seasonal and temporary agricultural work. With a tight labor market, the visa program is experiencing added growth. This session will assist farmers in assessing whether H-2A might address their operation’s labor 
shortage issues and explore the extensive regulatory obligations associated with application and participation in this program. Finally, the session will address critical ways producers can guard against worker vulnerability to ensure respect, responsibility, and safety for all. Register at

September 18: 5 Steps to Protect Your Farm, Legally Speaking 
Are there a few key steps that provide significant impact when it comes to the farm or ranch’s protection from legal risks? Yes, there are. Every farm or ranch, no matter its size, location, or longevity, is in a great position to build resilience. The session will help build knowledge and confidence around essential farm law issues. Register at

December 18: Land Leasing Basics 
Leasing farmland is so commonplace that landowners, farmers, and ranchers may not think twice about 
the lease itself until things go wrong. Prevent problems by using a strongly worded lease while building a path to a resilient future. Coverage of leasing basics will help attendees to understand what a lease should include and how to put it in writing. Get started with the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to create a carefully crafted document that works for individual needs, whether you are a landowner, rancher, or farmer. Register at

March 18, 2024: Forming an LLC 
Producers are often curious about the details of an LLC, and most farmers choose the LLC as their preferred business structure. The good news is that forming one is quite simple. At the same time, farmers and ranchers need to know a few key details to ensure they get the benefits they expect from this entity. Join this session for a quick recap of why an LLC is a good risk management tool, learn best practices for implementation, and understand the regular obligations needed to keep the LLC in top legal shape. Farmers who have had an LLC for years can learn a few things about preserving their resilience. Register at

If you will need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact Sarah Batka at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet access needs.

SOURCES: Kathryn Pereira, Local Foods System Small Farms Educator, Illinois Extension; and Sarah Batka, Local Foods System Small Farms Program Coordinator, Illinois Extension

WRITER: Jenna Braasch, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

ABOUT FARM COMMONS: Farm Commons is a national nonprofit organization specializing in legal education for farmers. Our mission is to empower farmers to resolve their own business law issues within an ecosystem of support. Through education, leadership development, and community-based problem-solving around business law, agricultural communities become stronger and more resilient. The result is a legacy of sustainable farms and a community-based food system for everyone. At Farm Commons, paperwork is powerful. 

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.