Skip to main content


Taking Care of Business (BF 103)

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

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.

Target Audience

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.

“All of the weekly presentations were so valuable. After every session I spent several hours considering what I had heard and how I was operating–or not operating–accordingly.” –Brenna B, Red Hook, NY

Course Objectives

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


The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from presenters and ask questions in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.


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


Mon. Mar 7 – Apr 11, 2016. Webinars will be on Monday evenings at 7pm Eastern time, and will be recorded for later viewing. This course will next be offered in March 2017, with registration opening in mid-August 2016.

Course Outline

  • Topic 1: Course Introduction
    Topics covered: Navigating in Moodle (our online classroom), course expectations, student introductions, risks commonly associated with running a farm business
  • Topic 2: How Should I Organize the Business?
    Topics covered: Common business structures, alternative options, mission & vision
  • Topic 3: Income and Sales Tax
    Topics covered: Relevant IRS law, Farmers Tax Guide, NY Tax Law
  • Topic 4: What is the NYS Agricultural District Law?
    Topics covered: Zoning, ag districts, property tax exemptions for farmers
  • Topic 5: Permits and Regulations
    Topics covered: Online permit assistance, sales tax, Dept. of Ag & Markets
  • Topic 6: Record Keeping and Wrap Up
    Topics covered: which records to keep, options and resources, final Q&A

NOTE: This course in particular contains several lessons that relate specifically to NYS laws, so out-of-state participants may need to do additional research to determine the details of their state’s equivalent laws.

Cost and Registration

Fee for this course is $200. This course is currently closed – registration will re-open in mid-August 2016 and the course will next be offered in March 2017.