So, You Want to Start a Farm? Resource Directory

Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Business Management Specialist and Team Leader
Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Program

September 18, 2020

A comprehensive collection of resources for beginning farmers as they embark on their information searching journey to start a farm business in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties of New York State. Information and resources compiled by Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Management Specialist and Team Leader, Cornell Cooperative Extension's Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program. Funding for this project provided by the State of New York and American Farmland Trust. Updated April 2021. For more information or further questions and inquiries, call 716-640-0522.

The SWNY Dairy, Livestock & Fields Crops Program offers educational programming and research based information to agricultural producers, growers, and agribusinesses. Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and education recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individual with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.

Link to our Agribusiness Directory of Technical Service Providers: Veterinarians   Feed Mills and Suppliers   Lime/Fertilizer Suppliers   Sheep Shearers   Meat Processing Facilities   Tax Preparer/Accountants

Link to our Micro Videos on Farmland Topics: Considerations When Buying a Farm    Starting a Farm in NYS   NYS Farm Business Structure Options   


Starting a farm can be a wonderful and inspiring process. However, it comes with its fair share of overwhelming feelings, struggles with where to begin, and moments of "why did I think this was a good idea?". If you've ever tried "Googling" how to start a farm, the results can be completely overwhelming and hard to sift through!

This guide was developed to help those who are interested in starting a farm narrow down what information they need to know. This is not designed to be a one-stop-shop, but rather a helpful starting point in the journey!

What you'll find are carefully selected resources that were developed by various agriculturally oriented service agencies, rather than anonymous internet blogs. While those can be helpful tools, starting with research-based resources can help cut out some of the clutter.

This should be a living, breathing document. Write in the margins. Sticky note things to come back to. Revisit often. Ask questions to the people and organizations referenced. Add note pages for ideas, pictures for inspiration, and a pack of wipes for the inevitable coffee spills. Keep it on the kitchen table to glance at while you take a break from the afternoon sun.

Over the past six years of my career with Cornell Cooperative Extension, I have answered countless calls that started with "I want to start a farm, now what do I do?". I've seen people succeed, be wildly successful, and grow tremendously. I've also seen people struggle, take longer than they had hoped, and stumble often. There's also those that the pieces just don't quite fit, things just don't quite work out. And all of those are okay. Getting through this binder with a "Not for me" finale is a success, too.

Having been through the process of starting a farm myself, I can tell you that there is no right answer. No quick answer. No easy answer. BUT - take a moment to write down your "Why Bother?". Why do you want to start a farm? Is it because you want to know where your food comes from? Do you want to carry on a family tradition? Do you want a lifestyle that is tough, but rewarding? Do you want to raise a family on a rural homestead?


Keep your "Why Bother?" close. Revisit it often, and remember that this is a journey, not a moment.

Best of Luck and I hope to talk with you soon!

Katelyn Walley-Stoll

Cornell Cooperative Extension's SWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program

Link to the Resource Binder in its entirety (opens in a new tab).

Getting Started


Next Steps

Organization/Agency Support

Field Crops

Field Crops









Upcoming Events

Is Grazing Sheep Beneath Solar Arrays and Opportunity for Your Future?

September 25, 2023
Mt. Morris, NY

Grazing sheep beneath utility-scale solar arrays can build wealth of present and future sheep farmers as vegetation management service providers and access to additional pasture. The Cornell Cooperative Enterprise Program (CEP) conducted a survey earlier this year completed by over 600 farmers. Farmers identified barriers to grazing sheep under solar arrays and weighed in on need for a producer-led organization to negotiate contracts on their behalf, coordinate logistics of multiple flocks, provide transport of sheep to and from the site, care for sheep while on-site, and provide supplemental mowing. Additional questions focused on processing and marketing needs.

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Technology for Grazing Dairies Webinar

September 27, 2023

Join us for this free webinar!  Brought to you by the dairy specialists of CCE NWNY and SWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Programs.

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Protecting Against Murphy's Law: A FREE Live Seminar for Veterans.

October 4, 2023

What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong!

Good ole' Murphy's Law is probably the best description of what it's like to be a farmer that there is! Join Cornell Cooperative Extension Farm Business Management Specialist, Katelyn Walley-Stoll, to learn more about the 5 areas of risk on farms and how to develop strategies to manage those risks. Participants will have the opportunity to identify areas of risk on their own farms and brainstorm ways to (try to) prevent the inevitable! 
Registration is REQUIRED by visiting or call Kelly at 585-268-7644. 

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