There are a number of funding sources that help cover costs associated with business operations, infrastructure, and land transfer.
Sources of Capital
Farm Service Agency Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program
Loan details here
Direct Farm Operating Loan
Direct Farm Ownership Loan
Guaranteed Operating Loan
Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan
Down Payment Loan Program
Land Contract Guarantee Program
Rural Youth Loan
New York State Empire State Development
Regional and Municipal
Public Authorities, including Local Development Corporations (LDCs, i.e. Binghamton Local Development Corporation) and Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs, i.e. Grow Schoharie County), provide funding to many beginning farmers. Speak with someone at your local soil and water conservation district or your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office to learn where the closest LDC or IDA is located.
There are traditional and alternative sources of capital that you can access. Traditional sources include banks or credit unions that tailor their loan products and resources to farmers. Some offer specific resources for beginning farmers. One excellent resource for beginning farmers is on Farm Credit East’s website here. Talk to your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office to learn about nearby banks or credit unions that offer capital for farms. Alternative sources of capital can be secured in a variety of ways. Social media and crowd funding platforms, micro-lending organizations, and foundations and venture capital firms positioned to support small farms are potential sources of funding.
First and foremost, farmers need general liability insurance to operate a farm. Then, one must consider the following types of additional insurance:
- Supplemental Insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Crop Insurance
- Health Insurance
Here are some additional resources to reduce your risk on the farm.
Successful farms require sustainable sales. Two major market channels are direct and wholesale. Selling direct means directly to the customer, such as at a farmers' market or through community-supported agriculture (CSA). Selling wholesale means selling to a third party that will then sell your food. Wholesale market channels utilize distributors to sell products to restaurants and retailers.
Resources to help you choose which marketplace suits your business needs and how to ready your product for market:
Guide to Marketing Channel Selection: How to Sell Through Wholesale & Direct Marketing Channels
The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook
Technical Assistance Providers:
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Agricultural Development
The Division can provide marketing and branding assistance, information on available funding, specifics on licensing programs and organic certification, and opportunities for business to participate in tradeshows and other industry events.
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Nearly every county in the state has an extension office. These offices are staffed by experts on nutrition, land management, and sales and marketing.
Buy-local campaigns in each region
A 'buy-local' campaign can be used to educate and encourage consumers to invest in businesses in their communities. There are several 'buy-local' campaigns across New York State including restaurant weeks and on-product labeling. This is a great way to promote your business to local customers.
Here are some buy-local campaigns across New York State that promote agricultural products:
Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty (Finger Lakes)
Hudson Valley Bounty (Hudson Valley)
Grown on Long Island (Long Island)
Pure Catskills (Catskills)
Adirondack Harvest (North Country/Adirondacks)
Field & Fork Network (Western NY)
Lake Plains Resource Conservation and Development Council (Below Lake Ontario)
GardenShare (St. Lawrence County in North Country region)
Empire 87 (Albany area/Capital Region)
Onondaga Grown (Onondaga County)
Chatauqua Grown (Chatauqua County)
There are several ways to access land. Buying or leasing land are the most common.
Please review the guide Finding a Farm to Buy or Lease (Northeast Beginning Farmers Project) for the most accurate information on buying and leasing land.
For lists of conservancies, land trusts and technical assistance providers located in New York State, please visit American Farmland Trust’s resource called the Farmland Protection Directory. This guide also covers technical assistance providers knowledgeable about farm succession planning and land transfer.
Farmers have many legal considerations ranging from labor laws to taxes to succession and land transfer planning. Here are some guides to navigate legal questions when starting a farm.
Guide to Farming in NY
Understanding Taxes and Regulations
Zoning Regulations & Farming
Farm Vehicle Regulations
Legal Aspects of Rural Living
Succession Planning and Retirement
Farm Journal Legacy Project
Land for Good’s Farm Transfer Planning
General Legal Resources