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An increasing number of programs and resources are available for veterans entering farming. Navigating through federal, state and local channels can be time consuming. While not intended to be all encompassing the information below will help you get started.

Sign up for our New York State Veterans in Agriculture Listserve: From the email address you’d like to use for your list subscription, send an email to and type the word “join” (without quotations) in the body of the message. The Small Farms Program and our partners will be using this forum to publicize events, resources, and opportunities related to veterans interested in farming in NYS.

Armed to Farm (ATF) is a National Center for Appropriate Technology program that provides training on sustainable agriculture to veterans. ATF is a combination of farm tours and classroom instruction that focuses on business planning, livestock production, and fruit and vegetable production.

The Farm Bureau Resource Guide to Assist Veterans in Agriculture. A Farm Bureau and Farmer Veteran Coalition Partnership

The Farmer Veteran Coalition. National non-profit organization “mobilizing veterans to feed America”: In New York State contact Jamie Critelli:


Download a free copy of the Veteran Careers in Agriculture: A Resource Guide:


Heroic Food, is based in Columbia County, NY and is being developed in collaboration with the Farmer Veteran Coalition. It’s a residential, tuition-free program, and participants will have paid training positions on farms and other income streams throughout the program.

National AgrAbility Project The vision of AgrAbility is to enhance quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities. While the term “disability” often brings to mind conditions such as spinal cord injuries and amputations, AgrAbility addresses not only these but also many other conditions, such as arthritis, back impairments, and behavioral health issues.

Veterans Outreach Center Inc. Founded locally in 1973 by returning Vietnam veterans, the center is serving the veterans and military families of Greater Rochester and Buffalo, NY.  Offering a comprehensive portfolio of supportive services designed to meet the needs of veterans and their families.


Clear Path for Veterans We help Veterans, military members and their families.  We provide myriad programs and services to make this happen. Each program and service relies on one of three methods: Self-empowerment, Peer-to-Peer support, and Community involvement.

USDA Start Farming USDA is an “Every Day, Every Way” department that touches the lives of every American, every day by supporting the agriculture sector, strengthening rural communities, promoting healthy eating, and helping to protect our natural resources. At the forefront of our mission is the support we provide to farmers to help them start and continue farming.

USDA Wants You! Veterans in Agriculture brochure:

Contact your Regional Learning Network Leader. Tell them you are a veteran in their region who is interested in a career in agriculture (or already farming) and get plugged in to activities near you.

In Western NY – Lynn Bliven:
In Northern NY – Cathy Moore:
In Eastern NY – Leora Barish:
In Southern NY – Laura Biasillo:
In Central NY – Matt Weiss:

Get Local Help:  It’s always best to first ask questions to your local small farm agent since they are familiar with local zoning issues and regulations for your county. You can find your local Small Farms Cooperative Extension Agent by checking the county-by-county listing at:

Looking for local events/trainings? We highly recommend subscribing to our bi-monthly enewsletter.  It brings you statewide events, ag funding opportunities, new resources, and small farm related job or career opportunities every two weeks. Subscribe at


This fact sheet is part of the Guide to Farming in NY by Monika Roth et al, published by the Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Fact sheets are updated once annually, so information may have changed since last revision. If you are reading a printed version of a fact sheet, compare revision date with online fact sheet publish dates at to make sure you have the latest version.

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Spirited- FarmPlanning to Stay in Business (BF 202)

Writing Your Business Plan

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Thurs. February 4 – March 10, 2016, with webinars every Thursday evening from 6:00-7:30pm.

Whether you intend to borrow money or not, heading into a farm venture without a business plan is like setting sail across the ocean without a map. Either way, you’re likely to run into bumps and twists that can derail your venture. Arm yourself with a business plan and you will have a guide to aid your farm decision-making and demonstrate to yourself and your family that your ideas are feasible. This intensive, fast-paced course is designed to help you build your plan quickly.

This course is geared for new farmers as well as those expanding or transitioning from one farm enterprise to another. Before enrolling in this course you should already know the type of farm you want, some short-term and longer-term farm business goals, and the geographic area or state where you intend to farm. You should have at least some first-hand experience with farming, including personal research into the type of farm you will operate. NOTE: If you are new to farming or are still exploring ideas, it may be helpful to take BF 101: Starting at Square One before enrolling in BF 202.

Upon completing this course, you will have a full business plan in a format ready to be implemented on the farm. The business plan may be used to guide you in decision-making in the course of running the farm business. Additionally, the business plan will be in a form ready to submit to a banker, private investor or grantor, in the event you are seeking outside funding.

Graduates of BF 202 have obtained equipment and operating loans, and mortgages, for start-up and expanding farms.


Rebecca Schuelke-Staehr co-owns Cayuga Pumpkin Barn and formerly worked for the NY Farm Viability Institute.
Steve Hadcock is the Beginning Farmer and Market Development Educator for the Capital Area Agricultural and Horticultural Program for Cornell Cooperative Extension.


fishing- vertical lettuce 2Veggie Farming, Part 2 (BF 121)

From Season-Long Care to Harvest

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Wed. February 24 – March 23, 2016, with webinars every Wednesday evening from 7:00-8:30pm.

This course will take you from transplanting to harvest, including information on in-season fertility; integrated pest management including pest ID and control; weed control options; harvesting strategies; and tips for marketing your products. Be prepared to create an in-season fertility and pest/weed control plan as part of this course. Weekly homework will focus on preparing you to make good decisions in the coming growing season.

This course is for serious aspiring farmers or those with at least one growing season of vegetable farming experience. You should already have a basic understanding of how to select crops, manage bed prep, seeding, and transplanting. This course is focused specifically on production systems used in the Northeast, so is targeted to people farming in that region.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Make good decisions about fertility management for your specific crops;
  • Understand options available for weed, pest, and disease control;
  • Be able to identify problem weeds, pests and diseases on your farm; and
  • Learn successful harvesting and marketing strategies.


Amy Ivy is a regional production specialist for the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).

Darcy Telenko is a regional vegetable specialist with the Cornell Vegetable Program, and is based at the CCE Erie County, NY office.


solar powering farm houseTaking Care of Business (BF 103)

Understanding the Business, Tax, and Regulatory Implications of Your Farm

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Mon. March 7 – April 11, 2016, with webinars every Monday evening from 7:00-8:30pm.

This course is designed to help aspiring or beginning farmers better assess and manage a variety of risks that farmers face in operating their farms.  Throughout the six week period, topics essential for operating a farm business will be discussed. Participants will learn about insurance coverages, types of business structures and tax information.

The target audience includes aspiring or beginning farmers living and/or farming in NYS and seeking to learn about the commercial, legal and tax implications of farming. This is an intro-level course. Farmers outside NYS can take the course, but should know that extra legwork will be required on the part of the farmer to determine the parallel agencies and regulations that apply in their state.

At the completion of this course, you will know how to:

  • Describe the five risks that farmers need to regularly address
  • Comprehend the legal liabilities of operating a farm or selling agricultural products
  • Find the resources necessary to better understand income and sales tax regulations for operating a farm.
  • 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
  • Use insurance as a risk management tool


Stephen Hadcock, Extension Educator with Capital Area Agricultural and Horticultural Program, NY
Lynn Bliven, Extension Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County, NY


Fishing- High tunnelSeason Extension with High Tunnels (BF 220)

Know Before You Grow

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Tues. March 22 – April 19, 2016, with webinars every Tuesday evening from 7:00-8:30pm.

Adding weeks to either end of your growing season can mean attaining a premium for having products available well before (or long after) other local growers. But the structures that make this possible–unheated plastic-covered “high tunnels” or “hoophouses”–can cost a lot of money, and they bring special management considerations that need to be understood in order to be profitable additions to your farm.

This course is meant for farmers who already have some experience successfully growing vegetables outdoors and are exploring high tunnels as a way to expand the season or improve plant quality. Information will be focused on using high tunnels in colder climates (US Climate Zones 4-6), but can be adapted to other growing regions.

By the end of this course growers will have the knowledge to do the following:

  • Complete a basic site assessment and know when to bring in experts to discuss site limitations
  • Make decisions to improve or maintain their soil health and fertility in the tunnel
  • Select an appropriate high tunnel structure for their site, climate, and production needs
  • Select and grow appropriate cold and/or warm season crops for the tunnel
  • Employ pest control and trouble-shooting strategies for high tunnels
  • Decide if high tunnels make economic, environmental, and social sense on the farm


Jud Reid is a regional vegetable specialist with the CCE Cornell Vegetable Program.
Crystal Stewart is a regional vegetable specialist with the CCE Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program.


Farmers Market at Rt 13 of New York State

Effective Marketing for the Busy Farmer (BF 201)

Sell Smarter, Not Harder

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Mon. January 11 – February 21, 2016, with webinars every Monday evening from 6:30-8:00pm

Most of us go into farming with the thought of making some – or all – of our livelihood through the sale of what we make or grow. As you grow your operation to provide more of your family’s income, having a carefully planned marketing strategy becomes more critical. Completion of this online course will enable you to better understand how to price your products, position yourself in the “buy local”, direct sales or wholesale marketplace, and understand low-cost “guerrilla” marketing tactics to get the best bang for your buck and make your farm operation financially sustainable. If you complete the activities in this course, you will possess a marketing plan to guide decisions for which market channels to enter, branding and crisis management plans and pricing guidelines for your farm products.

The target audience is new farmers with 1-3 years of farm management experience and/or serious aspiring new farmers who have already explored the basics of marketing and are ready to develop a formal marketing strategy.

This course will help you:

  • Link your farm’s mission and vision to your commercial goals and marketing strategy
  • Understand the key elements of a solid marketing plan
  • Understand who your target customers should be and how to most effectively reach them
  • Understand & use effective marketing strategies
  • Understand and use various pricing strategies with your products
  • Understand what a “brand” is and how to relate it back to your marketing activities
  • Create a marketing plan through weekly input from the course instructors


Laura Biasillo, Agricultural Economic Development Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, NY.
Marie Anselm, Agricultural Economic Development Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, NY.


2014 carrots

Vegetable Farming, Part 1 (BF 120)

From Planning to Planting

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Wed. January 13 – February 17 with seminars each Wednesday evening from 7:00-8:30pm (excluding January 20)

This course will help new or aspiring vegetable producers to answer basic questions about site selection, crop rotation, seeding and transplants, and financial aspects of veggie production. Topics including variety selection, pre-plant preparation, and cultivation will be covered. Don’t miss BF 121, the continuation of this course, which takes you through the remainder of the growing season into harvest, post-harvest handling, and marketing.

This course is for serious aspiring farmers planning farm start-up within the next year, or those with 1-3 growing seasons of vegetable farming experience. Because the pest complex, production systems and appropriate varieties vary so much from region to region, this course targets farmers in the Northeastern United States. Farmers outside the region are welcome to register, but should do so knowing that some of the information presented may not be appropriate for their region.

At the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand the characteristics of a viable site for commercial vegetable crop production and how to alter that site if necessary.
  • Understand the importance of cover-cropping, IPM, and proper pre-plant preparation.
  • Be able to develop a basic whole farm plan, which will help you keep records, manage time more effectively, and price products.
  • Have a good understanding of the full season of tasks involved in vegetable farming – from pre-plant to post-harvest considerations.
  • Know where to go to find reliable, fact based resource material on topics related to vegetable farming.


Amy Ivy is a regional vegetable specialist for the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and the Executive Director of the Clinton County CCE office.

Darcy Telenko is a regional vegetable specialist with the Cornell Vegetable Program, and is based at the CCE Erie County office.



Small-Scale Organic Grain Production (BF 140)

Is it right for you?

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Tues. January 19 – February 23, 2016, with webinars each Tuesday evening from 7:00-8:30pm

This course is intended to make grain production more accessible for small-scale farmers. Information from pre-planting to post-harvest will help aspiring grain growers determine the feasibility and profitability of integrating a grain enterprise into the farm. The course focuses on food-grade and distilling/malting markets, with backup markets for feed-grade grain. Learn what to grow, and how to grow, store and market organic grain. Topics include crop growth cycles and crop rotation, equipment and storage, post-harvest quality, cleaning and markets, and financial considerations. This course will enable the aspiring grain farmer to carefully weigh the challenges and rewards of small-scale grain production before investing time, energy and resources.

This course is for anyone who is interested in grain production but doesn’t know where to start: from the aspiring farmer to the experienced farmer considering the integration of a new grain enterprise. Because crop selection and production practices vary by region and climate, this course targets farmers in the Northeast. Farmers outside of the region are welcome to register but should do so knowing that some of the information presented may not be relevant.

By the end of this course you will:

  • Understand the agronomic characteristics of common grain crops and evaluate the suitability of specific crops for your operation.
  • Recognize the interactions of cover cropping and crop rotation.
  • Identify scale-appropriate equipment and applications.
  • Describe the full-season tasks involved in grain farming—from pre-planting to post-harvest.
  • Employ harvest, storage and market strategies to maximize quality and profitability.
  • Understand the financial aspects of small-scale grain production and develop a basic enterprise budget.


Kat Loeck is an organic grain farmer in Seneca County, New York.
Brian Caldwell is a researcher in Cornell’s Dept of Crop and Soil Sciences and a long-time organic farmer.



Markets and Profits (BF 102)

Exploring the Feasibility of your Farming Ideas

an online course through the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

Thurs. January 14-February 18, 2016, with webinars each Thursday evening from 7:00-8:30pm (no webinar on Feb. 11)

Have an idea for a farm enterprise but not sure if it’s feasible? This course will get you started exploring the potential markets and profitability of your ideas. It picks up where BF 101: Square One left off, so follows a natural learning progression from that course. (You do not have to take BF 101 before taking BF 102; however, you will likely get more out of BF 102 if you go into it with some existing knowledge of the concepts and terminology commonly used in business planning).

This course is designed for aspiring farmers who are actively planning farm start-up. Beginning farmers in their first few years who are looking for some help exploring marketing, development of budgets, and tools to help achieve profitability. This is an intro-level course that is designed to be taken concurrently or directly after BF 101.

This course will help you:

  • Identify farm goals and timelines for an enterprise
  • Begin to develop enterprise budgets and understand the potential for profitability with selected agricultural products
  • Explore marketing outlets and concepts important for successfully branding and selling your product
  • Understand that everything in farming is interconnected


Beth Claypoole is Ag Issues Leader of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Wayne County, NY.
Sandy Buxton is a Farm Business Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Washington County, NY.