So, You Want to Start a Farm? Resource Directory

Katelyn Walley, 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

2024 Aurora Farm Field Day

Event Offers DEC Credits

August 1, 2024
Aurora, NY

The annual Cornell Field Crop Research Field Day will be Thursday, August 1 at the Musgrave Research Farm, Aurora, N.Y. The program features walking and hay wagon tours in the morning and afternoon. 

View 2024 Aurora Farm Field Day Details

2024 Broiler Field Day at Laughing Earth Farm

August 19, 2024 : 2024 Broiler Field Day at Laughing Earth Farm
Cropseyville, NY

Join us for a free field day to explore broiler production, processing, and finances. Zack and Annie Metzger will be our hosts. They have run this 200 year-old small diversified farm for 8 years. They process their poultry in a 20C kitchen, where they produce value-added products like sausage and dehydrated chicken feet.

View 2024 Broiler Field Day at Laughing Earth Farm Details

2024 Broiler Field Day at Majestic Farm

August 20, 2024 : 2024 Broiler Field Day at Majestic Farm
Mountaindale, NY

Join us for a free field day to explore broiler production, processing, and finances. Brett and Sara Budde will be our hosts. They raise slow-growth organic broilers on their diversified farm in large flocks on woodland pasture. Their birds are processed into whole birds, parts, and chicken sausage.

View 2024 Broiler Field Day at Majestic Farm Details


No announcements at this time.