Union Vale Farm
Image by Sean Carroll
Lettuces at Great Song Farm
Image by Jennifer Fimbel
Image by Jennifer Fimbel

Getting Started in Agriculture

Agriculture is the largest industry in New York State, third largest industry in Dutchess County. Primarily our farms are smaller in size from an historical point of view. A large part of this change is due to the reduction of dairy farming and conventional larger farms and points to the increase in diversified farming operations (p. 77, 2015 Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan).

Soils play a critical role in the success of an agricultural business. Dutchess County has a host of many Prime and Statewide Important Agricultural soils (The Soils of Dutchess County).

The First Five Steps of Getting Started in Agriculture

  1. Ensure that the soils on a potential agricultural site are appropriate for the proposed operation. The Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation District (DC SWCD) offers soil mapping for a fee or the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Surveycan be used.
  2. If you have any technical questions about starting an agricultural business or unsure about what type of venture you would like to start, please consider starting with Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County and they will help you with the process and direct you to more specific procedural personnel such as:
  3. Check to see if your property is in an Agricultural District through Dutchess County Parcel Access. If it is not yet enrolled, all applications for the Annual Inclusion must be submitted to DC SWCD between April 15th and May 14th.
  4. If you have no plans to do the farming yourself, either contact the current farmer or contact the Ag Navigator to assist you in finding the appropriate match for your situation.
  5. Draft a business plan for your property as well as a marketing plan. Even a rudimentary plan can help develop a farm business. We can help you get started.
  • PLEASE NOTE: If you plan to lease your land to a farmer, understand that the reduction in your applicable land tax (Agricultural Assessment) should be applied towards the whole or part of the farmer's lease.


Jennifer Fimbel
Ag Navigator and Agricultural Educator
845-867-3075 or 845-677-8223, ext 118

Last updated April 1, 2019