Online Course: What Do I Need to Do to Start a Farm Business? March 3 – April 13

Online Intro Course for Beginning Farmers – Offered by the NY Beginning Farmer Project (a Cornell Program).

What Do I Need to Do to Start a Farm Business? March 3, 2011 – April 13, 2011

New farmers often ask “How does my enterprise officially become recognized as a farm?”  This question has many answers, all of which you’ll learn as a participant in this course.

This course is for: aspiring or beginning farmers seeking to learn about the commercial, legal and tax implications of farming.

NOTE: This course in particular contains several lessons that relate specifically to NYS laws, so out-of-state participants may need to do additional research to determine the details of their state’s equivalent laws.

Register Now >>Course Objectives: At the completion of this course, you will know how to

  • Describe how a farm is characterized by federal income tax, state income tax and sales tax law
  • Differentiate between local zoning laws and NYS agricultural district law
  • Apply using NYS forms for agricultural property tax exemptions for land and buildings used in your operation (if your farm meets certain criteria)
  • Evaluate various forms of business ownership and determine which will be best for you at this time
  • Identify rules and regulations (for marketing, food safety, facilities, etc) that are pertinent to the type of agricultural enterprise you plan to operate

The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters, ask questions, and collaborate with other participants and the instructor to address your farm issues in real time. Webinars are at 7pm on a weekday evening unless otherwise noted. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

FSA borrower training credit is available upon request.

Instructors: Stephen Hadcock, Extension Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia County, NY and Lynn Bliven, Extension Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany-Cattaraugus Counties, NY.


Webinars are typically held at 7pm EST on a weekday evening, and are general once per week. Specific dates will be listed once course is open for registration.

Week 1: Introduction to Moodle (our virtual classroom)
Topics covered: Navigating in Moodle, course expectations, student introductions

Week 2: How Should I Organize the Business?
Topics covered: Common business structures, alternative options, mission & vision 

Week 3: Income and Sales Tax
Topics covered: Relevant IRS law, Farmers Tax Guide, NY Tax Law

Week 4: What is the NYS Agricultural District Law?
Topics covered: Zoning, ag districts, property tax exemptions for farmers  

Week 5: Permits and Regulations
Topics covered: Online permit assistance, sales tax, Dept. of Ag & Markets

Week 6: Record Keeping and Wrap Up
Topics covered: which records to keep, options and resources, final Q&A


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