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Taking Care of Business (BF 103)

Bf103BusinessUnderstanding the Business, Tax, and Regulatory Implications of Your Farm

This course helps aspiring and beginning farmers assess and manage a variety of risks that a farmer will face as they operate their enterprise.  Throughout the six-week period, topics essential for operating a viable farm business will be discussed, including insurance coverage, types of business structures, and tax information.


Target Audience

BEGINNER – This is an intro-level course supports aspiring and beginning farmers seeking to learn about the commercial, legal and tax implications of farming. 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 five risks that farmers need to regularly address
  • Comprehend the legal liabilities of operating a farm and 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

Lynn Bliven, Extension Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County, NY.



Thursday Mar 2 – April 6, 2017 with webinars on Thursday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30pm Eastern time. 


Course Outline

Week 1: Course Introduction  
Topics covered: Navigating in Moodle (our online classroom), course expectations, student introductions, risks commonly associated with running a farm business

Week 2: How Should I Organize the Business? 
Topics covered: Common business structures, alternative options, developing and refining a mission & vision

Week 3: Income and Sales Tax 
Topics covered: Relevant IRS law, Farmers Tax Guide, NY Tax Law

Week 4: What is the NYS Agricultural District Law? 
Topics covered: Zoning, ag districts, property tax exemptions for farmers

Week 5: Permits and Regulations 
Topics covered: Online permit assistance, sales tax, Dept. of Ag & Markets

Week 6: Record Keeping and Wrap Up 
Topics covered: Which records to keep, options and resources, final Q&A


Cost and Registration

Fee for this course is $250. Sign up a month or more in advance of the start date and receive $25 off. Sign up for three or more courses and received $50 off your total.

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