Agriculture Economic Development
We use all Cornell Cooperative Extension resources in a timely and proactive way to enhance the development of farms and agriculture businesses in Ontario County, NY. Through education, we maximize farm profitability, increase access to and utilization of local farm products, improve on-farm employment and identify ways to apply appropriate and sustainable technologies to farm operations. This effort is achieving the economic, environmental, and quality-of-life objectives of all Ontario County communities.
With strong ties to Cornell University and other Land Grant universities across the United States, the Extension Agriculture Economic Development Program provides farmers and other rural landowners with a wide range of services. The information we share is researched, non-commercial, and practical.
We recommend practices that minimize negative impacts on the environment, promote self-reliance, encourage responsible animal husbandry & welfare, and enhance profitability.
• Timely workshops, seminars, conferences and clinics addressing farm development issues.
• Publications, articles, and radio / electronic communications about key aspects of agriculture.
• Research appropriate business contacts, sources of capital and other funding for innovative agriculture-related projects, and networking existing economic development assets with primary and secondary audiences.
• Educational assistance and consultation for new or expanding farm operations.
• Referrals to appropriate resources and agency programs for all agriculture enterprises – dairy, livestock, field crops, produce, pasture, forest-based products, and horticulture.
• Assistance with identifying grants and grant writing for farms; business plan development for agriculture or farm product processing businesses.
• Site visits to provide advice and referrals as circumstances permit.
• Tips on farm and forest tax management, farm labor, agriculture laws and policies, farmland preservation, energy management, and dealing with neighbor pressures on farmland.
• Assistance with developing and accomplishing direct marketing objectives, web site creation, farm market sales, and other innovative marketing plans.
• Telephone consultations for all aspects of farming and rural land management.
Agriculture Economic Development Specialist
585.394.3977 x 402
Renting Farmland in Ontario County
Much of the agriculture land in Ontario County is rented on a long-term basis.
If you are going to rent farmland from a landowner, or if you are looking for a farmer to rent your land,
1) determine a rent that is fair for both the landowner and the renting farmer
2) plan on getting things in writing
3) let your insurer know you have a rental agreement on land they insure.
Why rent farmland from a neighbor?
• Spread your fixed costs over more acres
• Utilize land you do not have the cash to buy
• Keep your farm cash flow positive by renting instead of mortgaging
• Transition the farm size gradually
• Shift your farm investments into better livestock, structures, or equipment and machines rather than tying it up in real estate
Why rent your land to a farmer?
• Maintain the benefits of having active farm businesses in the neighborhood
• Keep your land options open for time being
• Potentially reduce your property taxes by having the land assessed at agriculture value, rather than developed value
• Be a good neighbor to a local farmer
“Going rates” for farmland rental
Like renting an apartment or a car, the rate depends on the condition and location of the item to be rented. Some fields are of very high quality and are close to a market or processor, so the rates are higher. Other land is so-so and not worth a high rent. Out of neighborliness and local traditions, a lot farmland is rented for nothing. So it really depends on the specific situation.
Below are two downloads to help you determine a fair rental rate.
The “agricultural assessment” that you receive through your local property tax assessment office can reduce your property taxes. Land that is being actively farmed – used as pasture, mown for hay, tilled for crops, or even put into Christmas tree production – should be assessed based on its agricultural value, rather than its full market value.
Agricultural assessment is available in every community in Ontario County and across New York, provided that the land is eligible. For your land to qualify for agricultural assessment:
1) The farmed land must be a minimum of 7 acres
2) Land must be used for crops, hay, commercial boarding of horses or livestock production
3) The farm operation must earn at least $10,000 in farm sales per year. (Parcels smaller than 7 acres may qualify if the farm has gross sales over $50,000)
Beyond the farm land, your woodlot, hedgerows, and other support land (up to 50 acres per eligible tax parcel) may qualify. Qualifying farm land should be in a ceritified Agriculture District, but it does not have to be for agriculture assessment.
If you are renting your land to a farmer, your land may be eligible to receive agricultural assessment if the property satisfies acreage requirements, the farmer earns the minimum in sales, and you have a long-term lease (5+ years) with the farmer.
In Ontario County, contact Russell Welser
Senior Resource Educator|Agriculture Office
585.394.3977 x 436
or Marie Anselm
Agriculture Economic Development Specialist
585.394.3977 x 402
Contact the Town Assessor in your Town and let them know you want to apply for agriculture assessment. Below are some forms you will need:
Application & instructions for Agriculture Assessment (10 pages)
Agriculture Assessment renewal – due by March 1 each year to stay in the program
If you are growing crops or livestock FOR SALE (or you are boarding horses commercially), you meet the minimum eligibility to have your farm purchases exempted from sales tax.
There is no income minimum and the exemption takes place at the time and place of sale – not filed afterwards.
New York State Department of Taxation provides an easy-to-use form and clear instructions. Download, print, and fill out Form ST-125 (below) to use each time you make a purchase for the farm, or file a blanket form with the retailer.
Your commercial farm must stand up to scrutiny if you are challenged as to whether or not you qualify for the sales tax exemption.
TIP: Make sure you have a bank account for the farm that is separate from your family checkbook. Keep detailed and well-organized farm production records, even for very small farm operations. Claim farm income on Schedule F when you file income tax documents. These will all legitimize the fact you are using the sales tax exemption for farms appropriately.