2024 Farm Grants for Women: Everything You Need to Know

2024 Farm Grants for Women: Everything You Need to Know
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Farm Grants for Women: While agriculture is a major U.S. industry contributing billions to the economy and supporting countless related businesses, women farmers haven’t always had equal access to funding despite their growing role. This often leads to slower development and lower output for women-owned farms. Thankfully, the tide is turning with a surge of farm grants for women entrepreneurs that bridge the funding gap. Keep reading to learn more about these grants and how they can empower your agricultural business to flourish.

What is a Farm Grants for Women?

Farm Grants for Women
Farm Grants for Women

Farm Grants for Women can provide crucial financial support to women farmers and organizations led by women in the US agricultural industry. Offered by government departments, corporations, foundations, and other organizations, these grants are essentially free money. As long as you allocate the funds according to your proposal, there’s no need to repay them. Farm Grants for Women can be used to purchase agricultural land and property, as well as cover essential expenses like livestock, equipment, vehicles, seeds, feed, and more.

Key benefits of Farm Grants for Women include:

  • No need to repay the money: Grants provide a significant financial boost without adding to your debt burden.
  • Improved liquidity: Grants can improve your cash flow, allowing you to invest in your farm’s growth.
  • Expand, innovate, or improve your farm to increase production: Grants empower you to take your farm to the next level.
  • Increase purchasing power: Grants can help you buy supplies in bulk, potentially leading to cost savings.
  • Seize good business opportunities: Grants can provide the resources needed to take advantage of promising ventures.

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Benefits of a Farm Loan for Women

Farm grants for women can be a game-changer for female farmers looking to launch or expand their agricultural endeavors. These grants offer crucial financial support, unlocking a range of benefits that can propel your farm or ranch forward.

Here’s how farm grants for women can empower you:

  • Smoother Cash Flow and Improved Liquidity: Grants can provide a much-needed cash injection, ensuring a steady stream of funds for operational needs.
  • Increased Purchasing Power: Buy supplies and equipment in bulk, leading to significant cost savings.
  • Enhanced Financial Forecasting: Grants help bridge financial gaps, allowing for more stable and predictable financial planning.
  • Spread Out Major Expenses: Invest in essential equipment or cover operational costs over time, reducing the burden of upfront payments.
  • Strategic Purchases: Grants put you in control, enabling you to acquire necessary resources when they’re most critical, not when limited working capital dictates.
  • Capitalize on Opportunities: Grants empower you to seize profitable ventures that might otherwise be out of reach.
  • Weather Unexpected Costs: Grants provide a financial buffer, mitigating the impact of unforeseen expenses.

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Types of Farm Grants for Women

Types of Farm Grants for Women
Types of Farm Grants for Women

Farm financing for women can come in the form of a loan or a farm grant. Loans are offered by government agencies, nonprofits, and commercial lenders, while farm grants are typically available only from government sources and nonprofits. Depending on your specific needs and farm’s situation, securing a farm loan may be easier and faster than obtaining a farm grant.

However, the major advantage of a farm grant is that you never have to repay the funds as long as you use them for the designated purposes.

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Young Farmer Grant Program

Young women interested in agriculture careers can look to the National Young Farmers Coalition’s Young Farmer Grant Program for financial support. This grant program offers aspiring farmers critical resources to get their operations off the ground and flourishing.

The program awards 75 grants of $5,000 each, along with membership in the National Young Farmers Coalition. Recipients have the flexibility to use the funds for any aspect of starting, running, or growing their farms, with no restrictions on how they allocate the money.

The National Young Farmers Coalition is committed to diversity and inclusion within agriculture. At least half of their grants are specifically awarded to women farmers, as well as Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (though these categories can overlap).

To learn more about eligibility and application details for the upcoming grant cycle, visit the National Young Farmers Coalition website or contact them directly at jay@youngfarmers.org. While applications for the 2023 award period have closed, this information will help you be prepared for the next application window.

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United States Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a variety of Farm Grants for Women through its loan and grant programs, though some are open to all applicants. Here’s a look at two options:

  • Minority and Women Farmers and Ranchers Loan: The Farm Service Agency (FSA) sets aside a portion of its loan funds specifically to assist underserved producers, including women. This program offers Guaranteed Loans, Direct Operating Loans, Direct Farm Ownership Loans, Microloans, and Youth Loans. To qualify as a Socially Disadvantaged Applicant (SDA) and potentially benefit from these set-aside funds, you’ll need to identify your ethnicity, race, and/or gender on the application. Specific requirements, loan amounts, and purposes vary depending on the chosen program.
  • Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG): This grant program is open to all agricultural producers and can be used for planning activities or working capital to develop and market value-added agricultural products. While not exclusive to women, the program may prioritize beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, including women, along with small and medium-sized farms, and other qualifying applicant groups. Planning grants can reach up to $75,000, while working capital grants can go as high as $250,000.

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SARE Grants

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Grant Program offers competitive grants specifically for projects that support sustainable agriculture research and education led by women. Funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, SARE grants are available to U.S.-based women farmers, ranchers, researchers, graduate students, extension agents and other educators.

Eligible projects include on-farm renewable energy, pest and weed management, no-till and conservation tillage, pollinators and small ruminants. SARE is divided into four geographical regions—North Central, Northeast, South and West—each with its own grant opportunities specifically suited to women in agriculture.

Individual grant pages detail available amounts, eligibility and proposal requirements, and suitable project durations. For example, Northeast SARE offers grant programs like:

  • Research and Education Grant Program for Farm Grants for Women
  • Research for Novel Approaches in Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program for Farm Grants for Women
  • Professional Development Grant Program for Farm Grants for Women
  • Farmer Grant Program for Women
  • Graduate Student Research Grant Program for Farm Grants for Women
  • Partnership Grant Program for Farm Grants for Women

To qualify for a SARE grant, choose your geographic area and review the available Farm Grants for Women programs. Then, follow the instructions for each program to apply. Each grant page lists the relevant program coordinator you can contact with questions.

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FACT Fund-a-Farmer Grant

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) offers grants specifically targeted towards first-time female farmers through their Fund-a-Farmer program. These grants aim to improve farm animal welfare and support the expansion of humane farming practices. Since 2012, FACT has awarded over 600 grants totaling more than $1.11 million.

Funds can be used for capital and operational expenses that directly support these goals. Examples of approved projects include fencing, watering systems, access to shade, cattle scratching stations, and mobile animal shelters.

Important Dates for First-Time Female Farmers:

While the grant program isn’t exclusive to first-time female farmers, the application window for the 2024 cycle has already closed (November 1, 2023 – January 15, 2024). However, you can visit the grants section under “For Farmers” on the FACT website to learn more about eligibility and stay updated for the 2025 application period. FACT also offers resources like scholarships and webinars to support new farmers.

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The FruitGuys Community Fund

The FruitGuys Community Fund (TFGCF) offers grants for female farmers through its support of U.S.-based small farms and agricultural nonprofits. Grants are available up to $5,000 and can be used to improve farm operations, helping women in agriculture thrive.

Applications are project-specific, and the organization looks for plans that will strengthen both the local community and farm sustainability—such as drip irrigation, natural pest control, soil health, and energy efficiency. To be eligible, you must be an agricultural nonprofit, the owner or operator of a farm, or have legal access to the land you farm. The farm itself must have been a small- to medium-sized working farm for at least one year before applying.

You can apply for a TFGCF grant through the organization’s website, and the application period for the 2024 grant cycle begins in January 2024.

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Vermont Farm Women’s Fund

Vermont Farm Women’s Fund offers farm grants for women in Vermont. Administered through the University of Vermont Extension, these grants provide scholarships to help women farmers cover the costs of attending educational conferences, courses, and other classes.

The program aims to support farm-related educational pursuits that will help women improve their operations. Scholarships are capped at $150 and are designed for women who own, operate, or work on Vermont farms, with the majority of their income derived from these activities. Applications can be submitted online up to 10 days before the desired event.

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American Agri-Women Foundation

American Agri-Women Foundation (AAW) awards farm grants for women through scholarships aimed at supporting education and professional development in agriculture. Details and applications are available on the AAW website, which outlines eligibility requirements and deadlines for each program.

Daughters of American Agriculture Scholarships: These scholarships, the only AAW funds open to non-members, provide two $1,000 grants for women working in farm, ranch, or agribusiness to pursue accredited courses related to agriculture. Wives and close relatives of those in agriculture are also eligible.

AAW Convention and Fly-In Scholarships: To encourage member participation, AAW offers scholarships to attend their annual events. Three $500 scholarships are awarded for the AAW Convention and another three for the AAW Fly-In held in Washington, D.C. These scholarships are named the American Agri-Women Helen Whitmore Memorial Convention Scholarship and the American Agri-Women Gail McPherson Fly-In Scholarship, respectively.

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Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

With the goal of bringing new farmers into the agricultural sector, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program offers Farm Grants for Women. This program provides grants to support women farmers in the first ten years of their farming business. Grant awards vary by category, as do the rules of application. Awards range from $50,000 to $750,000 with an estimated total program award pot of $24 million.

Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Grant

The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Grant, funded by the Federal Government Department of Agriculture (USDA), can be a helpful resource for women farmers in the United States. It helps them purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy-efficiency improvements to their farms. Grants range from $2,500 to $1 million for renewable energy systems and $1,500 to $500,000 for energy efficiency projects, covering up to 50% of your total eligible project costs.

To qualify, farms and agricultural producers must be located in rural areas with populations of 50,000 residents or fewer.

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Farmers Market Promotion Program

The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) offers farm grants for women to develop, coordinate, and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets. This increases access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products. Grant funding ranges from $50,000 to $500,000 and varies depending on the type selected:

  • Capacity building grants: Help your farm or agricultural business run more efficiently. Use these funds for market analysis, strategic planning, producer or market manager education, or consumer outreach.
  • Community development training and technical assistance grants: Provide marketing and promotional assistance, along with technical help for challenges like regulatory and buyer compliance.
  • Turnkey marketing and promotion grants: To qualify for this award, your business must participate in at least three marketing and promotion activities.

FMPP grants are open to all US-based and owned farms and agricultural businesses led by women. A 25% matching fund is required to qualify.

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Value-Added Producer Grant program

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers, including women, generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Grants are awarded through national competition and fall into two categories: Planning Grants – up to $75,000; Working Capital Grants – up to $250,000. You must provide a 100% matching fund to receive your award.

Applications are open to independent producers (includes harvesters and steering committees), agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures led by women. Women farmers may receive special priority for an award if they are:

  • A beginning farmer or rancher.
  • Socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher.
  • Small or medium-sized farm owner.
  • Ranch structured as a family farm with a woman as the primary operator.
  • Farmer or rancher leading a cooperative.
  • Proposing a mid-tier value chain project.

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Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge

Calling all female agricultural innovators! The  Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge could be your chance to land substantial farm grants for women. This program seeks startup farm businesses, including those led by women, that are developing solutions for the challenges facing US agriculture. The competition awards a total of $165,000 in grants to ten finalists, with the winner taking home a top prize of $50,000. Other awards range from $10,000 to $20,000, plus an additional $5,000 ‘People’s Choice’ award.

While Farm Bureau membership is required to compete for prizes, women who aren’t currently members can join their state’s Farm Bureau to qualify.”

Note: This revision highlights the grant opportunity for women in agriculture while acknowledging the program is open to all qualifying startups.

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Alternatives of Farm Grants

Alternatives of Farm Grants
Alternatives of Farm Grants

Even with Farm Grants for Women, funding your agricultural operation might require additional resources. Business loans can bridge the gap if your grant award isn’t enough to cover your needs, or if your initial grant application wasn’t successful

Term loans

Need a cash boost for your business? This popular loan option offers a flexible repayment plan with a fixed term. Get a one-time funding injection of up to $5 million and repay it in predictable installments over a period of up to 25 years. Depending on your creditworthiness, collateral may be required.

Business line of credit

Consider a Business Loan that operates like a high-limit credit card. Farmers can access funds on-demand, up to their borrowing limit. Interest is charged only on the used amount, reducing borrowing costs compared to traditional loans. Collateral might be required.

Commercial Real Estate Loans

Financing commercial properties with a business purpose is done through commercial real estate loans, also known as commercial mortgages. These loans are used to purchase income-generating properties like factories, offices, and farms. While similar to residential mortgages for homes, commercial real estate loans have key differences.

Differences between Commercial and Residential real estate loans

Primary borrowerBusiness entity – farmPrivate individual
Type of propertyCommercial propertyPrivate residence
Loan repayment period10 to 25 years15, 20 or 30 years
Maximum loan to value (LTV)65% to 85% LTV95% LTV
Interest ratesHigher than residentialLower than commercial
FeesHigher than residentialLower than commercial
Pre-payment penaltiesCommonRare
Minimum FICO scoreUsually 600+Can be as low as 500

SBA loans

Looking to grow your farm? SBA loans can provide the financial boost you need. Here’s a breakdown of three options to consider:

SBA 7(a) Loans:

  • Government-backed security: Up to 85% of the loan value is guaranteed by the U.S. government, making it easier to qualify for lenders.
  • Larger loan amounts: Get access to financing up to $5 million for significant farm improvements or expansion.
  • Favorable terms: Enjoy lower interest rates and longer repayment terms (up to 25 years) compared to traditional commercial loans.
  • Stricter requirements: Be prepared to meet stricter eligibility criteria. You’ll likely need at least four years in business, annual revenue exceeding $180,000, and a credit score of 680 or above. Collateral might also be required.

SBA Express Loan:

  • Faster turnaround: Get a quick decision (often within 36 hours) on loans up to $500,000. Ideal for urgent needs on your farm.
  • Simpler process: Offered by the same lenders as 7(a) loans, the express program may have less stringent requirements.
  • Trade-offs: Expect higher interest rates and fees compared to standard 7(a) loans. Collateral may still be required.

SBA Microloan:

  • Accessible for all: Perfect for new or struggling farms. Non-profit lenders offer microloans with relaxed eligibility criteria.
  • Smaller amounts: Secure financing up to $50,000 for smaller needs like equipment purchases or working capital.
  • More flexible qualification: FICO scores as low as 500 or even no credit score might be considered.
  • Personal responsibility: Be aware that microloans often come with a personal guarantee, meaning you’re personally liable for repayment if the farm defaults.

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How do I qualify for a Farm Grants for Women?

Documentation will vary from one lender to another, but commonly requested paperwork includes:

  • Bank statements (at least 12 months)
  • Balance sheet
  • Profit and loss statement 
  • Cashflow projections
  • List of debts 
  • List of assets
  • Customer database
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Certificates of good standing
  • Business tax returns
  • Business license
  • Details of any offered collateral plus proof of ownership
  • Business plan

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interest rate on farm loans for women

The good news is that farm loan interest rates for women can be as low as 5% annually. However, the exact rate you’ll qualify for depends on several factors. These include the type of loan you choose, the specific policies of your lender, and the unique financial circumstances of your farm business.

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How to apply for a Farm Grants for Women?

How to apply for a Farm Grants for Women?
How to apply for a Farm Grants for Women?

Preparation is key to securing a farm grant for women. Here are crucial steps to follow:

Step 1: Identify Your Funding Needs

Why are you seeking a grant? What specific goals do you have for your farm business? To present a compelling case and qualify for a Farm Grant for Women, you’ll need strong financial records that demonstrate your need and how the grant will propel your plan forward. Most importantly, these documents should show a clear path for repaying any required matching funds or future loans.

Step 2: Research Requirements for Farm Grants for Women

Eligibility criteria for Farm Grants for Women can vary. While factors like time in business, revenue, and credit score are important, some grantors, like the USDA, may have additional requirements specific to women farmers. Research thoroughly to ensure you meet all eligibility standards. If there are gaps in your application, such as credit report issues, address them before submitting.

Step 3: Explore All Funding Options

Grants aren’t the only path! Some farm loan programs might be a better fit for your needs. Carefully consider factors like cost, speed of approval, and eligibility before settling on your final option.

Step 4: Find the Right Grant Provider

Once you’re ready to apply, explore offerings from various organizations. Reach out to relevant non-profits, government agencies, and online grant directories focused on supporting women in agriculture. Alternatively, consider using a grant marketplace platform. These platforms connect you with a variety of grant opportunities and may offer valuable guidance throughout the application process.

Step 5: Submit a Complete Application

Ensure you submit your application before the deadline and include all required documentation. Processing times can vary significantly, with some grantors taking longer to reach a decision and disburse funds.

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The world of agriculture is brimming with potential, yet women often face hurdles to success in this field. One of the biggest challenges is unequal access to capital and resources compared to their male counterparts. This is where farm grants for women come in as a game-changer.

By offering financial aid that doesn’t require repayment, farm grants for women empower them to overcome financial barriers and turn their agricultural dreams into reality. These grants provide funding for a variety of needs, from acquiring knowledge and attending industry conferences to financing essential farm infrastructure projects.

The existence of farm grants for women, offered by both government programs and non-profit organizations, signifies a positive shift towards a more equitable agricultural landscape. With access to this crucial support, women are not only building successful farms but also contributing to a more sustainable and food-secure future.

This conclusion emphasizes the challenges faced by women in agriculture, highlights the role of farm grants in overcoming financial obstacles, and underscores the positive impact these grants have on both individual farms and the agricultural sector as a whole.

Here are some frequently asked questions about farm grants for women:

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