Lifting the Veil on FamilyFarms Group

May 21, 2012 10:12 AM


FamilyFarms Group (FFG) is unlike anything else in the ag industry, making it hard for farmers and suppliers to wrap their brains around this closed-door group.
That’s why FFG, a members-only organization of 43 U.S. and Canadian farm families, is holding its first-ever media tour this Wednesday in Brighton, Ill.
"We want to be more transparent," says Jeff Haferkamp, chief operating officer of FFG, who adds that the group is now up to 380,000 member acres.
One by one over the past six years, FFG, headed by CEO Allen Lash, has assembled a network of farmers to invest in a company that at one time had a rumored goal of 1 million acres nationwide. Lash is a well-known consultant and founder of AgriSolutions in Brighton, Ill., and has made sure that FFG is grounded in business practices that start with serious management accounting. The network is fueled by the need to keep up with a crop industry that is consolidating at warp speed.
Open Access? Farmers who join FFG sign contracts and agree to business training modules, including environmental and sustainability certification. There are member costs and fees associated with joining as a "team" member. Earlier Top Producer interviews with FFG confirmed that the group works like an invitation-only franchise system -- those who buy in on a per-acre basis receive shares in the company and agree to adhere to the FamilyFarms set of standard operating procedures for members. FFG has declined to discuss fees and costs until this week.
Part of the impetus behind the media event is to combat some of the negative press surrounding the bankruptcy of Illinois Family Farms (IFF) in Carlinville, Ill. Lash once tagged IFF partner Rick Rosentreter as one of the "best students" he's worked with.
Stay tuned this week for more information as we learn about FamilyFarms Group. You can follow Top Producer Editor on Twitter at @TopProducerMag


The Background

Read previous Top Producer stories about FamilyFarms:

High-Profile Crash of a Titan
Two farming companies managed by a controversial Illinois farmer declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (January 2012)

Top of Mind: When the Big Fall
A giant in the land of black dirt has fallen. Big-time farm operator and past Top Producer of the Year finalist Rick Rosentreter of Illinois Family Farms filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past November. (January 2012)

Family... By Invitation
One by one during the past three years, Allen Lash has quietly assembled a network of farmers to invest in FamilyFarms LLC. (Spring 2009)

Cash in on Rent
Fine-tuning his margins heled a young farmer affod top rates. (Summer 2006)

Throw the Bums Out!
Ditching the money losers on the Mehmens' Iowa farm boosted profits by 40%. (Spring 2005)

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