Supporting small farms in New York




The Cornell Small Farms Program finds and delivers relevant knowledge and information to small farms of New York State and beyond. We bring together farmers and other stakeholders to prioritize small farm focused research and extension needs and form teams to address them.

Through our Innovative Small Farm Education Grants program, applied research efforts and our outreach program that reaches over 30,000 households, we find and share practical information about the factors contributing to small farm viability. New initiatives are focused on enhancing the organic dairy, developing expanded training programs for beginning and transitioning farmers, identifying local market opportunities, and addressing constraints to livestock processing for small farms.


New York's agriculture is based nearly entirely on smaller farm operations. Using the definition suggested by USDA's National Commission on Small Farms


The Small Farms Program's mission is to foster the sustainability of diverse, thriving small farms that contribute to food security, healthy rural communities, and the environment. In support of this mission, our key activities in 2008 were:

1. The initiation of collaborative statewide Work Teams on Grasslands Utilization, Livestock Processing Issues, and Local Markets

2. CCE Small Farm Grants program, which in 2007-8 funded nine innovative CCE Association-based programs specifically targeting small farm families, including 8 farmer-to-farmer discussion groups

3. Outreach program, including Small Farms Quarterly magazine, Cornell Small Farms Website, monthly email Small Farms Update, several targeted email listserves, and regular press releases)

4. Applied research on Small Farm Industry Clusters, in collaboration with researchers at Penn State University.

5. Our "Exploring the Small Farm Dream" class and Cornell Small Farms Club provide students with information, success stories, and support for their small farm interests and aspirations. Impacts of our New York Organic Dairy Initiative and New York Beginning Farmer Project are reported in separate statements.


As a result of these efforts, tens of thousands of small farmers have greater access to Cornell, CCE, USDA and other sources of research and educational information.

Over 27,000 households receive targeted, research-based and farmer-generated information via Small Farm Quarterly. With each issue, 14-18 CCE educators and Cornell researchers, 4-6 agency/NGO staff, and 3-4 farmer-authors are enabled to reach and serve this small farm audience.

Over 1,100 subscribers to our monthly email Small Farms Update have access to announcements, news, events, funding opportunities and educational resources. Our extensive web site averages 1000 hits per week.

The CCE Small Farm Grants program has resulted in 85% of New York's county CCE offices conducting educational programs specific to small farms. 30+ local farmer discussion groups have been initiated and/or supported through grants.

The 2007 Small Farms Summit engaged over 120 farmers, CU faculty, CCE educators, USDA & NYS agency NGO staff, and NGOs. It established a line of communication for small farmers to the New York State Agriculture Commissioner's office and the New York State Center for Dairy Excellence, and provided input for collaborative statewide Work Teams on Grasslands Utilization, Livestock Processing Issues, Local Markets, and Beginning Farmers.

The "Exploring the Small Farm Dream" class and Cornell Small Farms Club engaged about 40 Cornell students in 2007. Students say the class/club is "the only place on campus" that encourages their small farm aspirations. (Enrollment in the class has been capped at 31 students for Spring 2008.)

Cornell's Small Farms Program is recognized nationally as a leading resource for small farms.\

Submitted by: 

  • Rangarajan, Anusuya

Researchers involved: 

  • Green, Joanna
  • Baker, Michael J
  • Roth, Monika
  • Henning, Bill
  • Logozar, Bernadette
  • Hayes, Jim
  • Thurgood, John
  • Metzger, Phil

Organizations involved: 

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Penn State University
  • Numerous CU and CCE units (Pro-Dairy, FarmNet/ FarmLink, CaRDI, An Sci, Nutrition Sciences, Youth Developmentā€¦.)

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

New York State focus: 

  • Delaware