In addition to the grants for beginning farmers that can of course be issued to both women and men and also to families operating their own farms, there are a few opportunities for funding, training and loans specifically offered to women farmers. These come from several organizations dedicated solely to women involved in agriculture, from the well-known family farm charity Farm Aid and from the federal government through the USDA. If you are a woman already operating your own farm or looking to start one, you should definitely check out these sources of grants that might help you grow your successful woman owned agriculture business.
Rose Holste and her husband have had a successful crop and hay business based in Iowa since 1968. In 2009, she started Annie’s Project which now has a presence in over 30 states. The main goal of the project is to offer education for women farmers. 6 week courses are offered for free to women involved in agriculture that cover such basics as risk management and record keeping. Classes are designed to give women farmers a shot in the arm and understand how to best accomplish the local networking necessary for running a successful agriculture business. 6,500 women have already reaped the benefits of an Annie’s Project education. Grant support is offered by Farm Credit and a long list of benefactors that allow this education to be had at no cost. Click on the link above to quickly find out if Annie’s Project is offered in your state and for the name and email address of your state contact.
Farm Aid Grants
While Farm Aid does not offer a grant specifically for women farmers, what it does support are family farms where in most cases a woman farmer is central to the family that farms together. Funding for these Farm Aid family farm grants is derived from private support and the annual concert the organization has held every year since 1985. In 2012, Farm Aid granted well over $500,000 and supported 66 family farms. Grants are usually issued for anywhere between $3,000 and $20,000 and are usually channeled through organizations that support family farming. But the group also issues $500 grants directly to individual farms. For more information about this grant program, call toll-free 1-800-327-6243 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
USDA Farm Loan Programs
While the USDA does not offer a grant for women owned farms, what it does offer is loans. And a portion of this federal loan funding is targeted to what it calls socially disadvantaged applicants. This includes women and a number of types of minority farmers. If you are unable to find sufficient amounts of grant funding for your start-up farm and wish to consider taking on a USDA loan, you will only need to provide information about your gender and ethnicity on the regular loan application to be able to apply for this funding targeted to socially disadvantaged applicants. To find out more about any of the programs the USDA offers that can assist you as a female farmer, click on your state on this interactive map to locate your area USDA Service Center.
Women Food & Ag Network
WFAN was founded in 1997 by another woman farmer from Iowa named Denise O’Brien and has quickly become a leading association of women involved in agriculture. The organization offers a number of programs to help women farmers including Women Caring for the Land, Harvesting Our Potential and Plate to Politics. Through its programs and initiatives, this food and ag network for women offers education, training, networking and beginning women farmer apprenticeship. Over the years, it has also been involved in several relief efforts to raise and distribute grant funding to female owned farms hit by natural disasters and other situations of hardship. You can quickly and easily join WFAN’s mailing list by filling out this contact form. For more information about the network and how it can help your female owned farm, send an email to email@example.com or call 515-460-2477.