Introduction – Farm Grants For Females
Update May 2023: we reordered the list prioritizing the programs that are more specific to women at the top. We removed some programs and added others that were more relevant. The list is now 8: seven are core and the last one is a bonus. Some of the programs are broader toward “disadvantaged groups” which can include gender.
Farm grants are for farmers who need help managing their crops and livestock, buying new equipment, or building other infrastructure. Farm grants are also used for conservation efforts such as soil erosion control or waterway management.
In this article we will discuss farm grants for females 2023. Contrary to the title of the article, we now have 8 in our list!
Grants may provide funding to cover the cost of seed, fertilizer, labor, farm-related education programs and seminars, capital investments in agricultural machinery or buildings, and even marketing assistance.
These grants can help farmers establish new farms, expand existing ones, or sustain current operations.
The Female Representation- And Financial Gap in Agriculture
Statistics have proven that female farmers are under-represented in the agricultural field.
According to American Farmland Trust, “51% of farms had at least one woman operator in 2019, but women were the ‘principal operator’ on only 14% of operations.”
An analysis using 2012 Census of Agriculture data suggests that farms operated by women earn 40% less farm income than farms operated by men after controlling for farm and operator characteristics.
However, there is a silver lining: Community Supported Agriculture models have been shown to reduce the gender income gap by one-third. This highlights the importance of innovative farming models and practices in leveling the playing field.
7 Farm Grants For Females
These disparities highlights the need for targeted support to empower women in agriculture. One effective way to bridge this gap is through farm grants specifically designed for women.
The USDA has recognized this discrepancy and offers many farm grants for women to help level the playing field.
Here are 7 grants available to female farmers in 2022.
1. Minorities and Women Farmers And Ranchers Loan
Link here: Minorities and Women Farmers And Ranchers information webpage (including application form)
This is technically a loan program rather than a grant. The Women and Minorities Farmers and Ranchers Program is designed to give disadvantaged farmers better access to the same opportunities as other farm operators.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), in partnership with state government and non-profit organizations, provides financial assistance through Farm Operating Grants (FOPG) specifically for female farmers.
FOPG funding is used primarily to help lease land, purchase seed, fertilizer, and equipment, improve infrastructure, or cover operating expenses such as salaries.
In addition to the grants available through this program, the FSA offers women access to other valuable resources, such as Farm Credit options and Farm Storage Facility Loan Programs.
This combination of grants, loans, and resources makes it easier for women to invest in their farms to get them up and running quickly.
With the help of USDA programs like the Women and Minorities Farmers and Ranchers Program, female farmers can proudly own their piece of land from which they can harvest fruits from their dreams.
2. USDA Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants
Link here: Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants
The USDA Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant is a program designed to help socially-disadvantaged populations in rural areas obtain resources to start or expand their agricultural businesses.
The program awards grants to eligible individuals and businesses to help them purchase land, equipment, and supplies as well as receive training and technical assistance.
These grants can also be used to support rural businesses in developing marketing strategies and creating new products.
The goal of this program is to help socially-disadvantaged groups have the same opportunities to succeed in agriculture as those who are not disadvantaged.
This grant helps ensure that the rural areas where these disadvantaged groups live have the resources they need to prosper.
If you can’t get a grant directly from this program, look for organizations that have successfully received money and are redistributing it.
A good example is in Pennsylvania, in 2021 the Keystone Development Center in Lancaster, Pa received $173,288 to support women who grow flowers.
2. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP):
Link here: Beginning Farmer And Rancher Development Program webpage (grant application available)
This one isn’t restricted to women. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is an initiative created by the United States Department of Agriculture that offers grants for beginning farmers and ranchers to obtain agricultural training and technical assistance.
This program was designed to provide grants to men and women interested in starting agricultural operations, providing additional help for female-led farm enterprises.
The BFRDP Farm Enterprise Grant provides training, mentoring, business planning, financial analysis, market research analysis, enterprise development, and access to capital.
In addition to the Farm Enterprise Grant, a Farm Microenterprise Grant may also be available depending on the state where the farm is located.
Training such as budgeting and marketing are offered alongside various micro-enterprise resources that can act as a safety net for beginner farmers.
This type of grant is perfect for those just starting in agriculture, offering accessible education and assistance to ensure success in the industry.
3. American Agri-Women (AAW)
Link here: American Agri-Women webpage
American Agri-Women (AAW) is a nationwide organization that strives to support and empower female farmers and agricultural professionals.
AAW’s mission is to increase public awareness of the issues facing today’s farmers while providing sustainable solutions founded in 1978.
To achieve this goal, they offer educational materials to farmers, provide scholarships specifically for women in agriculture, organize networking events across the nation and advocate for a legislature that protects the interests of female farmers.
In 2020 alone, AAW has awarded Farm Grants to 25 female-led agricultural projects totaling $95,000 — from projects focusing on cover crops to solar energy installations — showing their commitment to facilitating independent leadership for women on farms across the United States.
4. Farm Service Agency (FSA) Microloan Program
Link here: FSA Microloan Program
The FSA offers microloans designed to meet the needs of small to mid-sized farmers. While not exclusively for women, they can be a good source of funding.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) Microloan Program is a program run by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide financial assistance to small, beginning farmer/rancher, women farmers, and veterans, to help them purchase necessary equipment, livestock, and cover expenses related to farming operations.
The loan funds can be used for a variety of expenses related to a farm operation.
This includes but is not limited to: purchasing livestock, equipment, feed, seed, and supplies, covering family living expenses, making minor improvements or repairs to buildings, and covering costs for land and water development.
Loan Size: The FSA Microloan program offers loans up to $50,000.
Eligibility: Applicants need to have a proven experience in the farming operation (at least three years), and show evidence that they have participated in the business operations of a farm for at least three out of the last ten years.
If the traditional experience requirement cannot be met, alternative methods can be used to determine eligibility, such as experience in a leadership role, significant small business experience, or postsecondary education in agriculture.
5. WAMS Grants for Women
The WAMS program offers aspiring women farmers the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills in the STEM fields relevant to USDA mission, which can empower them to become successful business owners in the agricultural industry.
The program provides funding for research and extension activities in the training, outreach and mentoring of rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in STEM fields.
This funding can help aspiring women farmers become better equipped to start their own business, launch new agricultural products, or gain the skills and knowledge necessary to work in the agricultural industry.
The program also provides the opportunity for these aspiring women farmers to collaborate with other rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas, which encourages knowledge sharing and networking opportunities that can lead to increased success in the agricultural industry.
6. Amber Grant Foundation
Link here: Amber grants for women
This program is not specifically targeted at women in agriculture, but it does support women-owned businesses.
The Amber Grant Foundation is a program that began in 1998. It was set up in honor of Amber Wigdahl, a young woman who died at the age of 19 before she could realize her business dreams.
The foundation is dedicated to continuing Amber’s legacy by helping other women achieve their business goals.
Grant Size: The foundation awards a $10,000 grant to a different women-owned business every month. At the end of each year, one of the twelve monthly winners is selected to receive an additional $25,000.
Eligibility: Any female entrepreneur who is at least 18 years old and a U.S. or Canadian citizen is eligible to apply. The business must be at least 51% women-owned. All types of businesses, from brand new startups to established companies, can apply.
7. Tory Burch Foundation
Link here: Tory Burch Foundation
This foundation provides resources for women entrepreneurs, but it’s not specific to agriculture. The Tory Burch Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2009 by fashion designer and entrepreneur Tory Burch.
The foundation aims to advance women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship by providing resources and programs that invest in the success and sustainability of women-owned small businesses. There are two programs of interest.
Capital Program: The foundation has a capital program that connects women entrepreneurs with affordable loans to help them grow their businesses. They partner with community lenders across the U.S. to provide these loans.
Fellows Program: The Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program is a year-long fellowship for women entrepreneurs. Fellows receive a $5,000 grant for business education, participate in a one-week workshop at Tory Burch headquarters, get a one-year membership to a co-working space, and have the opportunity to participate in a pitch competition for a larger grant.
Eligibility: The foundation’s programs are open to women entrepreneurs who own a majority stake in their business, manage the business on a day-to-day basis, and plan to use the program’s benefits to grow their business.
8. Value-Added Producer Grants
Link here: Value-Added Producer Grants (deadline was May 2023)
Women-owned farm businesses have been given an incredible opportunity to further their successful enterprises through value-added agricultural product market development grants.
These grants are specifically tailored to give female farmers the financial and technical assistance they need to capitalize on unique aspects of their business, such as development and marketing.
They can also use this assistance to increase access to retail markets, create interactive virtual shows, and expand distribution networks.
The main goal of these grants is to promote the sale of new value-added products, thereby increasing profits and income for farm businesses involved in production agriculture.
Farm businesses that receive these funding opportunities will certainly benefit by advancing their agricultural operations, putting money directly back into their local communities, and creating job opportunities within the agricultural industry.
Although anyone can apply for this, there’s preference for “socially disadvantaged” applicants.
BONUS 8. Risk Management Education Farm Grants for Women
[This grant is not active as of 2023]
Link here: Risk Management Education (outdated)
Farm grants for women are an important opportunity in risk management. These grants provide vital resources to female farmers, helping them increase yields and improve their operations.
The grant funds can be used towards investments in new technologies, expansion of existing investments, or premium payments on crop insurance premiums.
Additionally, these grants can be used to pay a portion of the direct operating costs associated with the farm.
Farm grant funds are unique in that they actively target female agriculturalists and help empower them to succeed financially despite inequity in earning potential compared to their male counterparts.
With the right guidance and support, women will have the tools needed to improve their farms and challenge patriarchal standards for financial success within agriculture.
The selection process considers historically disadvantaged groups in farming and in the text of the webpage this includes women.
Women producers are specifically mentioned as being historically underserved, which indicates that they will be given priority consideration. Proposals related to climate change, wildfire response, local foods, and urban ag will be given stronger consideration, which could benefit women producers.
With these resources available, female farmers can get the assistance they need to start or expand their operations. Through these programs, women farmers can build successful farms and take advantage of the same opportunities as other farm operators. With USDA’s commitment to providing access to all Americans, we look forward to seeing more female farmers succeed in 2022.