Starting a farming business takes a large budget. There are numerous farming grants for women in the United States to help offset some of the cost. Grants for women farmers include a variety of agricultural projects and programs.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Programs
- Beginning Farmer and Ranch Development Program (BFRDP)
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture maintains a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to help beginning farmers. The program has over $18 million in grants to be dispersed among 24 states. Grants assist farmers by funding state programs instead of going directly to individual farmers.
The Women Farmer Agricultural Network is one of 40 organizations awarded a BFRDP grant. They received over $400,000. The purpose of the grant is to assist beginning women farmers in the states of Iowa and Nebraska through 2015. The program will provide education and networking opportunities for women new to the business. Each woman will also be paired with a mentor to support through the process of establishing a profitable farm.
Aspiring women farmers will receive business planning instruction and the opportunity to work on a farm for direct experience. Those women with less than 10 years farming experience will receive more intensive business planning classes. They will also receive scholarships to a sustainable agriculture conference. In addition, the women will receive software and other materials to help them build their farms. Experienced women farmers volunteer to act as mentors so that the new farmers can benefit from their experience.
If you find that you are unable to qualify for one of the agriculture grants for women, you may want to apply for a direct loan offered by The Farm Service Agency (FSA). The loans can be used for many farming needs such as the purchased of livestock and land. You can be a beginning farmer or experienced farmer facing hardship to qualify. Guidelines for farm grants for women are available at your local FSA office.
The USDA sponsors the loan programs for farmers through the Farm Services Agency (FSA). There are direct farm ownership loans (DO) and farm operating loans (FO). FO loans are to pay for property payments or to refinance debt. FO repayment terms are never more than 40 years. DO repayment terms are 1-7 years and include expenses such as livestock, feed, and insurance.
- The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture funds numerous grants in the areas of education, research, and demonstration projects including farming grants for women.
- Farm Credit Services of America
This program offers financial assistance for beginning farmers through the Young & Beginning Loan Program. Applicants must be no older than 35 years old and have less than 10 years farming experience. See the Farm Credit Services of America website for more details.
- NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program
This competitive grants program focuses on sustainable farming including pest management, quality of life issues, soil quality, and many more topics. There are three types of grants- individual, partner and group. Grants range from $7500 to $22,500. The program funds an estimated 50 grants each year. Applications and a list of projects already funded by the grant are available at the NCR-SARE office.
- Simply Organic
If your farm educated the public about the importance of organic farming then you may qualify for the Simply Organic 1% program. Grants are provided on a case by case basis. Guidelines are available at the Simply Organic website.
- · Iowa and Nebraska
The states of Nebraska and Iowa each offer a beginning farmer tax credit program. Details are available at the website for the Iowa Agricultural Development Authority and the Nebraska Beginning Farmer’s website.
- North Carolina
The Farm Bureau of North Carolina has a special Women’s Program for farmers. It funds education and development resources in the farming industry for women.
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
The Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (SAC) published the Grassroots Guide to the 2008 Farm Bill to provide information about all of the programs that are available to farmers. The 128-page guide is available at their website and is a helpful resource when searching for grants for women farmers.
Farming grants for women include insurance programs to protect farmers in case of loss due to weather and other natural disasters. There are numerous crop insurance programs available to farmers. They do not cover incidents of negligence or poor management.
Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA), Sustainable Options Hotline is a Nebraska-based service that helps farmers around the nation. http://www.cfra.org.
Farming grants for women can make a difference for individuals just beginning in the industry. More experience farmers can also benefit by receiving one of the farm grants for women. Check these resources for more information about the wide variety of opportunities that are available.