This article presents a methodology for conceiving and planning the development of an optimized supply chain of a biodiesel plant sourced from family farms and taking into consideration agricultural, logistic, industrial, and social aspects. This model was successfully applied to the production chain of biodiesel fuel from castor oil in the semi-arid region of Brazil. Results suggest important insights related to the optimal configuration of the crushing units, regarding its location, technology, and when it should be available, as well as the configuration of the production zones along the planning horizon considered. Moreover, a sensitivity analysis is performed in order to measure how possible variations in the considered conjecture can affect the robustness of the solutions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.