Farmland for a New Generation New York Regional Navigators provide training and on-the-ground customized support for farmers and landowners in regions throughout New York.
Featured Regional Navigator: Laura Biasillo, Agriculture Economic Development Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County
1. Where in New York State do you work?
My work is focused in Broome County, which is located in the Southern Tier of NY.
2. What brought you to this work?
I grew up in a rural community and was part of 4-H until high school. I went away for college and graduate school but came back when I couldn't find a job. I love being able to see the real-world impact of the work I do in helping new farmers and those looking for ways to keep farming.
3. In what ways do you typically work with farmers and farmland owners?
My area of focus is in agricultural economic development, of which a piece looks at farmland preservation and farmland access. Through this initiative we support farmers and farmland owners in a variety of ways, including land evaluation for enterprise options, providing resources and connections related to creating leases, and education around farmland transfer and starting a farm business. We take great pride in being the connection and facilitator to the amazing resources that this state has to offer in this arena, including NY FarmNet, Pace University, and others.
4. Can you give an example of one farmer or farmland owner you are currently working with, the challenges they are facing, and how you are helping them work through those challenges?
I'm currently working with a farmer and young farmer on a farm transition. We have been working on this process for close to a year, starting with the young farmer's participation in the "Design Your Succession Plan" curriculum and connecting them with NY FarmNet to start working with a consultant. We have stayed in touch and work to have a semi-regular check-in on how the process is going (or not). One of their challenges is in making the switch from worker to taking on more management responsibilities to owner responsibilities. One of the young farmer's challenges is in accessing financing. We are working with them on putting together a plan for getting an LLC and business plan which they will need to approach a funder. We are also acting as a non-interested party who has relationships with both sides, so we can ask those difficult questions to prompt both sides to consider their options and priorities in this farmland transfer.
5. What is one piece of advice you have for farmers seeking land or farmland owners hoping to keep their land in farming?
Start the process early, know what you want for a business model and enterprise, but be flexible. Don't be afraid to start over or walk away if it doesn't feel right or will ruin a relationship you want to keep for the future.
Published in October 2022