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New York Agriculture Innovation Center

Cornell University

The primary function of the AIC is to help ag producers add value to what they produce (i.e., via product branding; product quality enhancement; on-farm, first-stage product transformation; finding higher-value uses for manure and crop by-products). Business planning assistance will be a key element of all activities.

If you are in a farm business in New York State that is producing (or considering producing) a value-added product, the AIC may be able to help. AIC projects include: business structure; business planning assistance; economic and environmental manure solutions; IPM foods and Trac software; value-added crop enhancement; value-added dairy (specialty cheeses); value-added horticulture.

If you have questions about the AIC, contact .

Cornell University Department of Applied Economics and Management

Cornell’s AEM site has a wide range of information, publications, and research available on farm business management. Click on “outreach” for a list of available information or see the links below:

  • Educational Materials —
  • Outreach Programs —
  • Annual Conferences —
  • Topical Workshops–

Ten Keys to Financial Success on Small Farms

Eddy LaDue, Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University,

A list of key factors leading to success on small farms. Based on a survey of successful small farms. Article is in PDF format.

Horticultural Business Management and Marketing Program

Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University

A program in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. Places emphasis on adaptation of new technologies to enhance productivity while maintaining environmental quality and sustainability.

Contact Wen-fei Uva, Senior Extension Associate, at (607) 255-3688 or for more information.

AgSquared: Free Software System for Small Farmers

“AgSquared” is the first-ever enterprise software system made for small farmers. The system was launched in 2010 by two Cornell graduates, Jeff Froikin Gordon and Giulia Stellari. “Record keeping has been an age old problem,” says Gordon. “With sustainable practices, there’s a lot more to think about. For a long time, if you had a problem, you could just spray better chemicals. Now you have to think about what you can do to make the soil stronger, or introduce beneficial insects.”

Beyond basic accounting of seeds in and fruits out, the computer system integrates U.S. soil data and weather mapping, and even makes analyses and recommendations based on best practices and eventually the collective wisdom of the community. AgSquared is paid for by sponsorships from fertilizer companies and the like, and is free to farmers. Learn more at:

Cornell Small Farms Program press releases

  • Farmer’s Facts Pocket Guide

Improving Whole Farm Planning Through Better Decision-Making

The publication is a collection of case studies written by educators who participated the Savory Center’s 2001 Northeast Holistic Management Certified Educator Training Program, and was funded by Northeast Sustainable Agriculture & Research (SARE) and Growing New Farmers. The educators compiled case studies about the farmers and farms with which they worked in the 2 years following their training, to determine how Holistic Management had helped improve farm management, particularly in the context of Whole Farm Planning. Case studies of beginning and new farmers, as well as agricultural educators, are included.

Individual case studies and accompanying material may be downloaded in PDF format, or printed copies may be purchased for $10 from the Savory Center.

A Strategic Management Primer for Farmers

Kent Olson, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, December 2001

This staff paper explains the basic process of strategic management. This involves developing a vision of what you want your farm to be in the future, describing the farm’s current mission, setting objectives, understanding your chosen industry and your farm’s place within that industry, identifying the major advances of building and maintaining strategic advantage for your farm, crafting and testing a strategy for your farm, implementing that strategic plan, evaluating performance, reviewing new developments, and making corrective adjustments, as needed, in the plan and its implementation. Publication is in PDF format.

A Lease Agreement Guide for Landowners and Farmers

Deb Heleba, David Major, Bill Snow, Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Vermont, 2002

Provides farmers and landowners with some of the basics involved in putting together an effective agreement to keep the state’s “working landscape” open and productive. Includes descriptions of three types of agreements — verbal, lease, and letter of agreement — and considerations on liability, current use taxation, and Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAPs). Publication is in PDF format.

8 pages. Single copies free; multiple copies may require S&H fee.

To order, contact:

UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Agricultural Engineering Bldg.
63 Carrigan Dr.
Burlington, VT 05405
Phone: (802) 656-5459

Business Decision Making

West Virginia University Extension Service

Designed to help managers consider different options and gather the necessary information to make decisions. Also includes spreadsheet templates and market information.

Decisionmaking Principles for Part-Time Farmers


Scott Barao, Janet P. Hughes, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland, 1999

The information in this factsheet provides the basis for decisionmaking principles for managers and operators of part-time farm businesses in the Northeast United States.

Sharing Farm Machinery

Erlin Weness, University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center, August 2001

Farm machinery costs make up 20-30% of the annual per acre cost of producing corn and soybeans on Minnesota farms. But spreading the ownership costs between 2 or more farms can reduce these costs.

Business Management for Farmers

A 6-part series of comprehensive manuals on managing a farm business.

  • Part 1: Developing a Longer Range Strategic Farm Business Plan
  • Part 2: Managing the Overall Business
  • Part 3: Managing Production and Marketing Systems
  • Part 4: Acquiring and Managing Resources for the Farm Business
  • Part 5: Getting Established in Farming
  • Part 6: Planning the Late-career, Retirement-mode Years

All 6 parts are available from Midwest Planning Services Catalog.

Call 1-800-562-3618.

NY FarmNet

An assistance and referral organization that provides free confidential consultations on your farm business management questions, plus over 250 publications on various topics related to farming.

Phone: 1-800-547-FARM (3276)

Western Integrated Resource Education

University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service

A business management curriculum that teaches a concept of management which provides practical tools for integrating management of the physical, biological, financial, and human resources of agricultural operations. WIRE emphasizes the process of management — setting goals, priorities, making decisions, planning, budgeting, keeping records, and performing evaluations — with personal goals in mind, rather than particular production technologies. The process begins by setting goals, which provides the manager with a clear focus on what he/she wants to accomplish through the operation and a view of how it can be done.

Farm Business Arrangements

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

This publication outlines considerations for several types of farm business arrangements as well as discussing the pros and cons of each arrangement. Publication is in PDF format

Canadian Farm Business Management Council

Site offers resources on business planning, diversification, leadership, marketing, risk management, and more.

Canadian Farm Business Management Council
75 Albert St.
Suite 903
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1P 5E7
Phone: 1-888-232-3262 (toll-free from anywhere in North America) or (613) 237-9060
Fax: 1-800-270-8301 (toll-free) or (613) 237-9330

U.S. Small Business Administration Online Courses

U.S. Small Business Administration

A selection of free online courses for those interested in small businesses. Topics covered include business development, e-commerce, financing, procurement opportunities, etc.

Family and Business: An Uneasy Combination

Penn State University, Dairy Digest

An article on solving the conflict of interest between family and business in a farm family business. Article is in PDF format.

Focusing on Farm Profits

Penn State University, Dairy Digest

An article on the importance of making good decisions based on accurate information through good record keeping. Shows the importance of analyzing production and financial records. Article is in PDF format.

The Penn State Farm Management Handbook


This 280-page general guide to the role and utilization of farm management techniques in today’s agriculture provides data and budgets for livestock and poultry, farm groups, and fruit and vegetable operations.

$12. For more information, contact Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Listed under Publications.

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