More women farmers are entering the field than ever before, so you would think that finding farm grants or other business loans for women would be a breeze. But while there has been a steady rise in women producers, grants for farmers are still hard to find. With more female farmers needing funding to sustain their operations or expand their farming capabilities than ever before, sourcing the right farm grant can be a challenging process.
Luckily, there are still some farm grant options for women farmers. In this guide, we’ll go over seven farm grants for women, and what you can expect when you apply.
Farm grants for women farmers are rare, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there. Below, we’ve listed both federal and local grants and financing resources that are specifically for women, as well as other options that are available for all farmers. A lot of farming grants are dedicated to farmers who are either interested or currently practicing sustainable agriculture, so you may want to keep that in mind as you go through this list.
Secondly, if you are having trouble finding grants as a woman farmer, we highly encourage you to join agricultural organizations that are dedicated to helping female farmers such as the National Women in Agriculture Association or the American Agri-Women. These organizations are fantastic because not only do they help you with educational and networking opportunities but they can also help connect you to financial resources.
Although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not provide any grants to farmers, women and minority farmers are eligible for a funding source known as Socially Disadvantaged Applicant (SDA) funding. In order to be considered for SDA funding, you must provide your ethnicity, race, and gender on the loan application.
For women farmers that need assistance with purchasing a family farm, the USDA also offers another type of loan known as the Direct Farm Ownership Down Payment Loan. Female farmers who receive this loan will only have to pay 5% of the purchase price of the farm, while the USDA will finance 45% to a maximum loan amount of up to $300,000.
The USDA’s Office of Rural Development also offers Value Added Producer Grants, which funds farmers that want to participate in generating new products and expanding marketing opportunities. Beginner farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers receive priority for these grants. Grant recipients can receive up to $75,000 if they applied to the Planning Grant and up to $250,000 if they applied for the Working Capital Grants. Before applying for the Value Added Producer Grant, it is advised that you speak with one of the USDA’s Business Programs Specialists before filling out the applications.
The Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Program (WAMS) by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is a cost-share grant program up to $300,000 that supports research into projects that increase the consumption of healthy food and economic viability of small-scale farms. This grant program encourages participation from women and underrepresented minorities in rural areas in order to build a more diverse workforce of agricultural scientists and educators. To apply to WAMS, you must submit your applications through Grants.gov.
Female farmers located in select counties in North Carolina may be eligible for the Mayer Boyer Sustainable Agriculture and Food Grant sponsored by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. Women farmers and ranchers in the following counties are eligible to apply for the grant:
The grant seeks to strengthen the local food system by supporting female farmers who plan on implementing solutions to overcome marketing or production obstacles. Two grant recipients will receive $2,000, and interested applicants must submit an application and explain how the funds will be used to help grow or improve your farm business.
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Grant Program provides up to $250,000 in grants to research projects that advance sustainable agriculture practice. Available grants vary according to region; depending on where your farm is located, you may find other grant programs such as the Farmer Rancher Grant, which is exclusive to North Central SARE and awards $9,000 to $27,000 to farmers who want to research or start projects related to sustainable farming solutions. While the grants cannot be used to start a farm, they can (among other things) be used for marketing, crop rotations, and pest management purposes. To apply for a SARE grant, you must contact your local region’s SARE office and submit an online grant proposal.
Young female farmers looking to start or grow their farm should look to the National Young Farmers Coalition’s Young Farmer Grant Program. In order to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers, this particular grant program awards $5,000 to 50 aspiring or new farmers. A minimum of 50% of the grants will be given to female-identifying, non-binary, and trans farmers. According to the guidelines, grant recipients can use the grant to purchase a new piece of equipment, cover operational costs, or hire new labor.
To qualify for the Young Farmer Grant, applicants must be the owner of their farm or business, be under the age of 40, and practice sustainable farming. You must submit a detailed application explaining how you plan to use the grant to sustain your operations.
Since 2012, Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) has provided nearly half a million in grants to independent family or individual farmers who have worked on projects that improved animal welfare through its Fund-a-Farmer Grant program. Each grant recipient will receive $2,500. The program offers three types of grants:
Eligibility requirements for each grant vary, but generally, farmers must be engaged in the daily operations of the farm and its animals. Successful applicants must complete an online application with information about their farm, project, and budget. Applicants may be required to submit photos of the current state of their farm and their animals.
The Vermont Farm Women’s Fund is dedicated to helping women farmers build their farming business from the ground up. They award scholarships to women farmers who are interested in receiving further education or training to improve their farms. These scholarships can be used to cover educational conferences, courses, and classes. Scholarships are capped at $150 or 75% of the course or conference fees. Interested applicants must apply using an online form that asks for basic contact information and requires applicants to answer questions about their farming experience, income, financial goals, and educational goals.
The FruitGuys Community Fund is another viable grant option for female farmers. This non-profit organization awards $2,000 to $5,000 grants to small farms and agricultural nonprofits that need funding to work on projects that will help their farms become more sustainable. Projects that are given preference involve those that are related to water conservation, natural pest control, energy efficiency, community building, and more.
Applicants that are interested to apply should be the owner of the farm and commit to engaging in community outreach. Additionally, the farm itself should be categorized as either small or medium-sized. To apply, you must submit a letter of intent before the application deadline.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, finding a grant for women farmers can be hard; but we also want to mention that, aside from grants, there are also many scholarships available for female farmers interested in learning how to build their farming business. For example, Women in Agriculture offers a $2,500 scholarship for women farmers interested in learning more about how to build their farming business. Additionally, we also have guides on resources for women business owners that can potentially apply to your farming business.
We also want to note that, while there may not be too many farm grants for women, there are plenty of general farm grant opportunities. However, you’ll find that your best chances of securing a farm grant come locally. Because grants are highly competitive, it’ll work in your favor to look into local private organizations first, then search across federal programs.