BF 103: Taking Care of Business

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

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

This course helps early stage farmers assess and manage a variety of risks that they will face. Throughout the six weeks of the course, we will discuss topics essential for operating a viable farm business, including insurance coverage, 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 are welcome to take the course, but should know that extra legwork will be required on their part to determine the parallel agencies and regulations that apply in their state.

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 Teachable, 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.

Webinar Schedule

Live instruction for 2024 has concluded. You are welcome to enroll now to complete this course on a self-paced schedule and join our next live session in Winter 2025. All webinars are recorded and posted in your online classroom to watch anytime. Once enrolled in this course, you will retain access to all materials indefinitely and may return to participate in future live offerings of the course as well. Please join us!

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., Student

As a new farmer all I wanted to think about was the production side of things. The topics in this course are not sexy, but they are so important to educate yourself on. I think this course should be a requirement for every new farmer.

— Phil K., Student

Your Instructor

Steve Hadcock + Lynn Bliven
Steve Hadcock + Lynn Bliven

Steve Hadcock is a Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator with the Capital Area Agricultural and Horticulture Program in NY with educational responsibility for working with new and beginning farmers. He provides education on an individual and group basis to those interested in beginning a farm and for those who have been farming for less than 10 years.

Lynn Bliven
is the Agriculture & Natural Resource Issue Leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Allegany County, NY. She began her career in 4-H and currently works in Agricultural Economic Development, specializing in beginning farmer outreach, local food systems and livestock production. Lynn and husband Shawn operate a 52 acre farm in Rushford, NY raising grass-fed beef and lamb.

Course Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course officially starts and ends on the dates given above, when the instructors get involved and begin hosting live weekly webinars. If you are registering after the webinars have concluded for the year, you will have immediate access to all the course materials, and will be able to participate in the next year's webinars if you choose to.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 7 days and we will give you a full refund.

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