Getting connected to a support network is a critical way for beginning farmers to figure out who’s out there to help, and to get “in the loop”. The support network map on the Who Can Help page focuses on organizations or offices that provide targeted training, mentoring, or other assistance to new and beginning farmers.
The broader farm support network includes:
The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide educational network. Each U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. These offices are staffed by one or more community educators who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes. Some county educators will come and walk your land with you, and some offices have an active event calendar offering trainings and farm walks.
In NY, these offices have a Small/Beginning Farmer contact. Find your local office here.
Statewide FarmLink or LandLink Programs
Most Northeast states have some formal statewide service to help connect farmers and landowners. Some organizations listed in the Who Can Help map are offering this same service informally or on a smaller scale – search “land access” on the Who Can Help map to find out who might be able to help you.
- Land for Good
- NY FarmLink
- Pennsylvania FarmLink
- LandLink Vermont
- Maine FarmLink
- New England LandLink
- New Jersey FarmLink
- Connecticut FarmLink
State Department of Agriculture
This state agency oversees most aspects of regulation related to processing, marketing, safe handling, and selling of farm products. Most offer information downloads on their websites about relevant regulations for your business. You can also find phone numbers on their website and contact staff directly to ask questions. Search online for “(your state) Department of Agriculture”.
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
FSA administers programs in commodity and energy crop payments, disaster relief, and farm loans – including targeted Beginning Farmer Loans. Find the office nearest you.
Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI)
The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) was founded to provide high quality technical assistance on privately owned grazing lands on a voluntary basis and to increase the awareness of the importance of grazing land resources.
Established in 1991, GLCI is carried out through coalitions of individuals and organizations functioning at the local, state, regional and national levels. The coalitions include livestock producer organizations, scientific and professional grazing resource organizations, conservation and environmental groups, and state and federal natural resource and agriculture agencies. Visit their national map to locate the contact people for your state.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems. They administer cost-share programs that help farmers implement good stewardship practices on their farms. They also maintain hard copy soil maps for your county, as well as an online soil map database called the Web Soil Survey that you can use to learn about the soil types on your farm. Find your local office here.