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Join one of our upcoming online farming courses: Veggie Farming, Berry Production, Introduction to Maple Syrup, and more!

The Cornell Small Farms Program offers over twenty courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills. Students connect with other farmers, work on farm plans, and gain practical tips without leaving their home. Course content can be accessed anywhere with a high-speed internet connection.

Most courses are six weeks long. Each week features an evening webinar and follow-up readings, videos, and activities. Students and their instructors connect through online forums and live chat. If you aren’t able to attend the webinars in real-time, they are always recorded for later viewing.  

Classes starting the Week of November 6 include:

BF 120: Veggie Farming 1 – From Planning to Planting
This course helps new and aspiring vegetable producers answer basic questions about site selection, crop rotation, seeding and transplanting, and financial aspects of veggie production. Topics including variety selection, pre-plant preparation, and cultivation will be covered.

BF130: Poultry Production (BF 130)
Many new farmers get started with poultry, because it’s a relatively low-investment enterprise with a fairly quick turnaround time from investment to revenue. The margins can be slim though, and farmers need to develop the necessary skillset in order to produce a product that is both safe and profitable. This course will help you get started with all the basic information to build a successful poultry enterprise.

​BF 122: Berry Production 
If you’re exploring the idea of adding berries and bramble fruits to your farm, this course will help you consider all the aspects of this decision, from varieties and site selection all the way through profit potential and marketing.

BF 152: Introduction to Maple Syrup Production
Maple syrup production is rapidly growing around the Northeast and offers a sound financial opportunity to utilize woodlots. This course explores the range possibilities of maple sugaring on your land – be it for supplemental income or for your livelihood. Also discussed are “alternative” trees for production, including Birch and Black Walnut.

Developing and Using an Effective Marketing Plan (BF 205)
Most people are drawn to the production side of small-scale agriculture and then are “stuck” with the marketing. This course introduces effective techniques to reduce the amount of time and money that marketing activities draw from the farm while guiding management towards income and lifestyle goals.

Course tuition entitles two people from a farm to attend. Discounts for early sign up and multiple course sign ups are available.

Check out the listings at for more information on a particular course and the instructors.

Contact Erica Frenay, or Steve Gabriel,
or call 607 – 255 – 2142

Agroforestry in Practice: a 3-day training for Service Providers

October 17, 18, and 19, 2017 in Montour Falls, NY at the Schuyler County Cooperative Extension

Agroforestry is the science and art of combining trees and forests with crop production. It is a topic of great interest to many landowners and farmers and offers many promising enterprises including maple syrup,

log mushroom cultivation, silvopasture (combining trees and livestock) and others.

Research has established agroforestry as one of the most promising approaches to land use that both provides an economic return and supports environmental health.

This three-day course is designed for service providers including extension educators, farm non-profit organizations, public and private foresters, and consultants who routinely work with landowners and farmers to implement best practices.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the Schuyler County Cooperative Extension, Cornell Small Farms Program, with support from NE SARE, Penn State, and the USDA National Agroforestry Center.

Learn more and register here.

Classes starting the Week of September 23 include:

BF 101: Starting at Square One 

Goat People Livestock

This course helps new and aspiring farmers take the first steps toward setting goals, assessing resources available (physical, financial, and personal), and exploring enterprises that are the best fit for you and your land.
Carefully defining what you want to do and how you will do it is a key element of any successful new farm enterprise.

This course is taught by Erica Frenay (Shelterbelt Farm) and Steve Gabriel (Wellspring Forest Farm & School). Both also coordinate online courses for the small farms program.

Woodlots are a common feature of most farms in the eastern US, and are often overlooked for the value they might bring to the landowner and to farm enterprises.
During this course, we will examine the methods to assess forest resources and discuss common woodland activities such as cutting firewood, harvesting logs for mushroom cultivation, and support for wildlife and long-term forest health.This course is taught by Peter Smallidge, who is NYS extension forester and coordinator of the acclaimed ForestConnect webinar series on YouTube.



vegetable tomato

This course is an introduction to QuickBooks, designed to provide an overview of the QuickBooks Pro software application.
It will cover the basic features, such as sales tax, inventory, invoicing, adjustments, and year-end procedures.
Each student will gain hands-on experience reproducing the exercises presented by the instructor.

Each course is $250, which entitles two people from a farm to attend.

Upon registering, you will receive a receipt with a link you can use to register the second person from your farm.

Check out the listings at for more information on a particular course and the instructors.


Contact Erica Frenay, or Steve Gabriel, or call 607-255-2142.

What investments will help grow our livestock sector?

Are you faced with challenges in the production of livestock on your farm? Do these affect your ability to grow your business? Or do you work with livestock producers as an educator, researcher, service provider or veterinarian?

The Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension want to understand what you see as the priorities for research and education to increase viability of livestock production in NY and beyond.  There is growing demand for regionally produced meat, milk and fiber. Yet we know our farmers are facing challenges that could constrain their productivity and profitability as they grow their businesses.

We are asking experienced livestock producers at all scales to prioritize research and extension topics that will help grow the livestock sector in NY. This anonymous survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. Your perspective and feedback is essential to shape research and extension support for livestock production in NY!

Gift Card Drawing!  After completing the survey, you will have the opportunity to register for one of three $100 gift card drawings to an agricultural supplier of your choice!


How this survey will be used: This survey information will help us to prioritize research and educational programs and resources to address current or emerging livestock production challenges. We will never share individual farm information with anyone ever; all results will be aggregated and anonymized. We will review preliminary results at our upcoming NY Livestock Summit on March 30, 2017. The findings will be summarized in a report this summer and be shared widely to elevate the needs of the Livestock sector across the region.

LEARN MORE about the 2017 NYS Livestock Summit, to be held on Thurs Mar 30 from 1-4pm at 8 sites around the state. We hope you will join us!

GENEVA, NY – Soil amendments such as raw manure offer clear benefits to agricultural production, but they can also pose potential environmental and food safety risks if not handled properly. The Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule outlines some requirements for using soil amendments because of the microbial risks associated with their use.  Raw manure has been shown to have a higher potential to contain foodborne pathogens that can cause illness, especially if fruits and vegetables become contaminated, either directly (e.g., improper application or processing of compost) or indirectly (e.g., through contaminated irrigation water from runoff).

To discuss the benefits and challenges of using soil amendments such as raw manure and compost relative to the safety of fresh fruit and vegetable production, Cornell food safety experts are convening a summit on March 28-29, 2017 . The Soil Summit will provide the opportunity for produce growers, educators, and researchers to discuss and identify barriers to using/producing compost while also identifying management strategies, resources, and additional support necessary to support growers in minimizing food safety risks on the farm, especially when using raw manure.

Held at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, the summit will address the need to support produce growers in identifying management options that preserve the benefits and minimize the risks from using soil amendments such as manure and compost, while also addressing the environmental impacts. The summit will include presentations and break out discussions, and provide participants a better understanding of current research and risk assessment efforts by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Participants will learn details about the final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and the standards it sets in the use of biological soil amendments of animal origin and human waste.

The summit costs $100.

Registrations can be made at Please note: the registration deadline is Friday 3/24.

Calling experienced livestock producers: We know you face tremendous challenges to grow your business. What are the undeveloped opportunities and how can we collectively address them?

Cornell University’s Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension are partnering to host the NYS Livestock Summit on March 30, 2017 from 1-4 pm at 8 locations throughout the state.

Our aim is to prioritize needs to grow the livestock sector in NY.  The target audience for the Summit is the experienced producer (beef, swine, sheep, goat, poultry) and supporting agencies/industries. Your perspective and feedback is essential to shape the future of livestock industry support in NY!

You can choose from any of the following locations around the state:

Albany County Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in Voorheesville, NY. Contact Hank Bignell (, 518-272-4210) or Tom Gallagher (, 518-765-3518)
Cortland County CCE in Cortland, NY. Contact Heather Birdsall –, 607-391-2660 x 405
Franklin/St. Lawrence County CCE in Canton, NY. Contact Betsy Hodge –, 315-379-9192
Jefferson/Lewis County CCE in Watertown, NY. Contact Ron Kuck –, 315-788-8450 x234
Orange County CCE in Middletown, NY. Contact Rachel Moody (, 845-344-1234), Jason Detzel (, 845-340-3990 x327), or Michele Lipari (, 845-292-6180 x129)
Otsego County CCE in Cooperstown, NY. Contact MacKenzie Waro –, 607-287-1292
Schuyler County CCE in Montour Falls, NY. Contact Brett Chedzoy –, 607-535-7161
Wyoming County CCE in Warsaw, NY. Contact Nancy Glazier (, 585-315-7746 or Lynn Bliven (, 585-268-7644 x18)


Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing your site host’s contact information and the street addresses for all the sites.

If you have general questions about this event, please contact the host of the site closest to you (info. above).

Cornell Small Dairy Support Specialist Fay Benson is recruiting participants for the New York edition of the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program, the groundbreaking, nationally-recognized apprenticeship program for the agricultural industry.

Modeled after apprenticeship programs such as those for developing a highly skilled level of experience for new plumbers and electricians, the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, or DGA, is recognized by the federal Department of Labor.

The two-year DGA requires 4,000 hours of instruction, including 277 hours of online classes, and on-the-job training on farms approved for good agricultural practices and safety measures. The federally-registered apprentices are paid on an established wage scale to work on an existing grazing dairy farm while they gain knowledge, skills, and early experience. The wage increases over time as skill level grows.

The NY apprentices and Master Graziers will work with Benson as the New York DGA Education Coordinator and a ‘job book’ containing several hundred dairy industry topics to prepare the apprentice to successfully own, operate, or manage a grazing dairy farm business.

Apprentice candidates must be at least 18 years old; have a high school diploma or equivalent, e.g., GED or composite ACT score of at least 18; be physically able to do the work a farm requires; and have reliable transportation.

A Master Grazier must have at least five years experience with managed grazing or certified organic dairying an an interest in mentoring someone interested in dairy career entry.

Master Graziers often find their own apprenticeship candidates. In some cases, once the training is complete an apprentice stays on as a dedicated farm employee, becomes a farm partner, or eventually transitions into farm ownership.

Successful completion of the DGA provides the apprentice with a journeyman certificate recognized for college-level credit by the New York Department of Labor. The journeyperson experience may help secure a beginning farmer loan with FSA or a bank.

The Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary has shown that dairies that use grazing are more profitable than non-grazing dairies of similar size. Grazing is a way to lower fee costs while maintaining animal health and agricultural stewardship.

The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program that began in Wisconsin in 2009 is now approved in nine states: IA, ME, MN, MO, NJ, NY, PA, VT, and WI.

Those interested in becoming an apprentice or serving as a Dairy Master Grazier may apply online at; for assistance, contact Abbie Teeter at, 607-391-2660 ext 412. Once registered, the apprentices and Dairy Master Graziers can search the entries across the 9-state region to initiate discussion of a possible apprenticeship opportunity.

To learn more about the New York Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, contact Fay Benson at 607-391-2660, Benson is project manager for the NY Organic Dairy Program, an educator with the Cornell University South Central NY Regional Team, coordinator of the NY Soil Health Trailer, and a member of the New York Crop Insurance Education Team.

How does health insurance affect farmers and ranchers? Help influence rural health policy in upcoming survey

Farmers and ranchers: How does health insurance affect you? Help influence rural health policy by participating in an upcoming USDA funded survey. Your responses will help researchers understand how health-insurance policy affects farmers’ and ranchers’ decisions to invest, expand, and grow their enterprises.

Selected participants received a letter about the survey in February. If you did not receive a letter and survey but would like to participate follow this link:

This survey is a chance for farmers and ranchers to make their voices heard about their experiences with health insurance and how that affects both their economic development and family’s quality of life.

“We’re interested in hearing from multi-generation, beginning, and first generation farm and ranch families across all ages and  sectors of agriculture. We want to understand what parts of health insurance are working well for farmers and ranchers and what types of policy and program modifications need to be made. Results will be shared with agriculture and health policy makers,” said lead researcher, Shoshanah Inwood, rural sociologist and professor at the University of Vermont. All responses will be confidential and only summary statistics will be reported.

“We know from our prior research that farmers identify the cost of health insurance as a key barrier to growing their farms or farming full-time,” said Inwood. This study is a joint effort with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Policy, and the four USDA Rural Development Centers. Findings will be used to guide the development of training materials for professionals who work with farmers and ranchers—such as Extension Educators, farm consultants, and tax accountants—so that they can support farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to make well-informed decisions regarding health insurance.

The survey questions are based on interviews conducted in 2016 with smaller groups of farmers and ranchers in the 10 states being researched. This study is a four-year national project exploring how health insurance options impact the farm and ranch population in the U.S. The project, titled “Health Insurance, Rural Economic Development and Agriculture” (HIREDnAG), is funded by a $500,000 USDA Rural Communities and Regional Development grant. States included in the study are California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

Project partners include the Northeastern, North Central, Southern and Western Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs); University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies; University of Vermont Extension; Center for Rural Affairs; University of Maryland Extension; and, the Farm Foundation.

For more information, visit the HIREDnAG website:
Or contact Katlyn Morris, HIREDnAG Project Coordinator at or by phone at 802-656-0257.

Calling All Farmers! Learn about Reduced Tillage for your Organic Vegetable Farms The series is free, but registration is important.

Michigan State University is teaming up with Cornell University and the University of Maine to offer a 3-part webinar to share the latest research on reduced tillage for organic production and learn about the practices, equipment, and cover crops that can work for your farm. Click here to register!

The webinar topics include:

1. Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables on Permanent Beds

Ryan Maher (Cornell University)

Mark Hutton (University of Maine)

Brian Caldwell (Cornell University)

On: Thursday, March 9, 3-5 pm EST

About: Permanent bed systems can help small farms improve soils and reduce tillage

for a diversity of crops. Learn how these systems take shape and how different practices

are being used to manage weeds, reduce labor, and improve productivity.

 2.  Strip Tillage – How To and Its Values

Anu Rangarajan (Cornell University -Soil Health)

Dan Brainard (Michigan State University – Weed Management)

Meg McGrath (Cornell University – Disease Management)

Zsofia Szendrei (Michigan State University – Pests and Beneficial Insects)

On: Thursday, March 16, 3-5 pm EST

About: Adapting strip tillage for organic production requires system-wide changes. Learn

the tools and equipment and what research is showing about integrating cover crops,

managing residue, attracting beneficial insects, and controlling diseases and weeds.

3. Cultivation for Reduced Tillage Systems

Dan Brainard and Sam Hitchcock (Michigan State University – Tillage to manage weeds)

Eric Gallandt and Bryan Brown (University of Maine-Soil management)

On:  Thursday, March 23, 3-5 p.m. EST

About: Cultivation of the in-row zone is challenging, especially in reduced tillage

systems. Learn about innovative in-row cultivation techniques in reduced tillage crops.

Direct questions to Vicki Morrone, Organic Farming Specialist at or 517-282- 3557.

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