Ever considered taking an old family recipe and producing it on a commercial scale? Or maybe you are a small farmer with dairy cows, and you want to start selling cheese products?

If you currently have, or are considering starting, your own small farm-based agribusiness or food specialty business, the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) can help your business grow and succeed.


The SBDCs offer one-on-one consulting specific to agricultural enterprises and specialty food businesses. Through partnerships with the USDA, agricultural extension agents, research entities, product testing labs, and the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), the SBDCs can easily address the needs of companies who wish to take their food product to market.

Educational programs, presentations, and speakers, including ServSafe training for food handlers, are offered throughout the SBDC 18-center network.

The SBDCs offer standard business services to agribusinesses along with specialized assistance for entrepreneurs looking to commercialize new food products.

If you are considering an agri-based business, the SBDC can help you find information and build your comprehensive business plan.

  • Start-up issues (what you need to have, or do, in order to begin)
  • Marketing (where, how, to whom etc.)
  • Pricing
  • Regulatory issues
  • Profitability analysis
  • Financial projections

Be sure to check out our checklist.

AgBiz Masters Program

AgBiz Masters is an interactive, educational learning series designed specifically for young and beginning farmers interested in honing their business and financial management skills. The program takes a blended learning approach where participants complete on-demand, eLearning modules and activities, coupled with face-to-face regional seminars that are led by industry experts.

AgBiz Masters is a two-year series where you enroll in one year of the program at a time. To learn more about this program or to request a registration form, please visit here, or contact at 800-349-3568 ext. 6016.

AgBiz Masters Program Flyer
AgBiz Masters Program Overview

Agricultural Enterprises

At the SBDC, we are seeing growth in the category of small farms, often geared toward what is termed “alternative agriculture”.  These small farm businesses tend to sell either directly to the consumer via farmer’s markets or CSA’s (community supported agriculture entities, usually by subscription) or to food stores, restaurants or other outlets that emphasize locally grown or produced items. 

Some examples of these types of small farm/agricultural businesses are:

  • Produce (sweet corn, blueberries, vegetables etc.)
  • Livestock-based (meat, dairy, breeding stock etc.)
  • Value-added farm businesses (cheese, cider, soap, wine etc.)
  • Farm-based enterprises (Christmas trees, firewood, farm vacations, corn mazes, bed & breakfast etc.)

Another emergent category is urban farming.  These growers own or rent small plots of land and utilize intensive methodologies to maximize yields in small spaces.

Complying With Regulations

The following websites provide information on the common regulations that affect small farmers/growers:

The Agribusiness and Food Specialty Center can be reached at the following locations in Northeastern PA:

The University of Scranton SBDC
600 Linden Street, Brown Hall-First Floor                                   Scranton, PA 18510
Contact: Lisa Hall-Zielinski
(570) 941-7588 or (800) 829-7232

Food & Agribusiness Success Stories

Talluto's Authentic Italian Food

    • tallutos
Talluto's showcases its food at an Italian Festival. A chef by profession, Joe Talluto enjoyed sharing his passion for Italian Cuisine.  Joe’s knowledge and appreciation of simple Italian cooking drove his hope of opening his own ravioli store.  In 1967, Joe sold his family’s home in Southwest Philadelphia for $7,500 to…

Twisted Olive

    • ss lehigh twisted olive
With an abundance of awards, recognition, and experience in the restaurant industry under his belt, Steve Kershner saw a tremendous opportunity to showcase his talents where the Starfish Brasserie once operated. Kershner’s casual-bistro restaurant would revive this formerly vacant location within Bethlehem’s Restaurant Row on West Broad Street, and provide a…

What the Fork Truck

    • what the fork
Mario Bevilaqua came to the University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2010, looking for assistance to start a mobile food truck business. After attending a First Step seminar and going through the initial information on starting a business and preparing a business plan, Bevilaqua decided to put the project…

LA Taco

    • indiana la taco
Walter Aguirre, a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania with an entrepreneurial bent, was seeking a way to provide additional income for his family.  He approached the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center (SBDC) with several ideas for starting a business. The SBDC helped Aguirre research his ideas and…