News from the Cornell Small Farms Program, Spring 2021

Labor Ready Project Shares Farmers’ Stories 

Our Labor Ready seeks to enhance the efficiency and overall success of NYS fruit and vegetable farm businesses through professional development for Ag managers, with a special emphasis on creating opportunities for growth and career development for aspiring Latinx farm employees. In a new video series, we highlight the experience of two NYS farmers as part of Labor Ready project initiatives. Specifically, the Smart Farming Teams and the Master Class for Bilingual Orchard Managers.  

  • Smart Farming Teams: NYS fruit and vegetable growers collaborate with a team of agricultural consultants to address and solve existing labor-related issues on their farm. 
  • Master Class for Bilingual Orchard Crew Members: a one-of-a-kind professional development experience that builds upon the knowledge that developing leadership skills among key Spanish-speaking employees is an investment in a farm business’s ultimate success.  

The Smart Farming Team initiative has become one of the most impactful elements of the Labor Ready Project. Offering farm business owners the time and space necessary to address specific challenges facing their farm businesses, New York State producers worked in teams to build critical labor management, human resource, and financial management skill-sets. While the project offered an individualized approach to problem solving, broad community impact has developed in tandem. Owing thanks to the dedicated Smart Farming Team producers and consultants alike, a budding network of skilled and successful farmers and businesses have been established in communities throughout the state. To demonstrate the power of community skill building, we highlight the stories of two Smart Farming Team producers in the article “ What it Means to Join a Smart Farming Team and in a new video series on our YouTube channel at   


Farm Ops Launches Veteran Learning Cohorts and Announces 2021 Armed to Farm Events 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped farmers from farming, nor has it stopped the work of our Farm Ops project to support veterans interested in agriculture. Last year we started offering virtual workshops, and we are continuing these offerings through 2021.  

Our Farm Ops project’s “Veteran Learning Cohorts” bring together veterans interested in agriculture or self-stainability to progress through educational workshops together.  Military veterans currently enrolled or eligible for enrollment into a New York or New Jersey VA facility are welcome to register; proof of residency and veteran status may be requested. Workshops are a combination of self-paced learning and cohort discussion sessions. Discussion sessions provide opportunities to collaborate with peers and enhance your learning experience.  

Learn more about these events on the Farm Ops Event Series page. 

Also, the Farm Ops project is pleased to announce we are again participating in the popular Armed to Farm program for military veterans, run by The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). NCAT is moving their multi-day intensive training online to make it accessible during COVID-19 restrictions, allowing us to engage with a larger audience. 

The Virtual Armed to Farms will cover topics essential to farm success, including business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, and USDA programs, as well as specific enterprise discussions. Virtual Armed to Farm participants will engage in a blend of interactive online instruction, individual assignments, networking with fellow beginning farmers, and video farm tours via Zoom. Instructors will include NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists, staff from partner organizations, USDA agencies, and experienced crop and livestock producers. Participants are given additional material to continue their studies, and connections to supporting agencies as they grow their farms. 

Virtual Armed to Farm topics will be applicable to all beginning farmers regardless of location in the U.S. Military veterans interested in farming are encouraged to apply. Spouses are welcome to participate as well but must submit a separate application. The number of participants will be limited to facilitate effective online interaction, with additional breakout sessions based on regional participation and interests. 

The Virtual Armed to Farm trainings are free. While participants may join the live sessions via phone only, access to a computer, tablet, or mobile device and internet is required in order to watch recorded sessions and complete online assignments.  

For more information go to  and the Farm Ops event page 


New Self-Paced On-Farm Poultry Processing Course Available 

Has your insurance provider told you they won’t underwrite your on-farm processing of poultry unless you complete a training? Do you need to brush up on best practices for processing meat birds on-farm? 

Our new self-paced online course offers detailed videos and lessons on food safety and humane techniques for dispatching and processing chickens and turkeys on-farm under the 1000-bird exemption. 

The On-Farm Poultry Processing course will take 3-4 hours to complete, and includes quizzes in each section to test your knowledge. You’ll have 3 attempts to score 80% or better on each quiz before you can move onto the next topic, and if you pass all of the quizzes, a “Certificate of Completion” will be automatically issued to you. 

This certificate may be accepted by your insurer to underwrite your poultry operation, but we cannot guarantee that it will result in coverage. Please confirm with your insurance agent before registering, if your sole intent in taking the course is to obtain farm insurance. 

As with all of our online courses, pricing is tiered based on household income and this course ranges from $49 – $99. This On-Farm Poultry Processing course was authored by Cornell Cooperative Extension educator and farmer, Lynn Bliven, from Allegany County. 

This new self-paced course joins our program’s offering of more than 20 online courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills. These courses cover a range of topics any farmer needs to succeed, such as farm business, soil health, indoor mushroom production, grazing management,  and so much more. You can browse all of our course offerings at 


Updated Guide to Farming in New York State!   

Are you looking to start a farm, but don’t know where to begin? Or are you looking to expand a preexisting operation, but aren’t sure how to navigate that process — whether it pertains to hiring employees, marketing your products, or filing the right tax forms?    

We are pleased to announce the release of our newly-updated Guide to Farming in New York State. This extensive guide aims to answer these questions and many more! Over the course of 35 fact sheets, our guide outlines the step-by-step processes of starting, expanding, and maintaining an agricultural enterprise in NYS.  

This updated version includes a number of important changes, including new resource sheets, more current information, and an increasingly accessible online format. The update also includes new Spanish translations for selected fact sheets. At its core, this update is focused on accessibility: we want it to be a resource that all agricultural entrepreneurs can use.  

The guide is divided into four main sections: Getting Started, Business Considerations, Marketing Considerations, and Additional Resources. In addition to these helpful guideposts, readers can also consult our How to Use This Guide document.  

To view the new guide, visit You can view the guide as a downloadable PDF or navigate to individual fact sheets. 



Kacey Deamer

Kacey is the Communications Manager for the Cornell Small Farms Program. In this role, she manages all storytelling and outreach across the program’s website, social media, e-newsletter, magazine and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for more than a decade, with a primary focus on science and sustainability.