The number of women as principle operators of organic farms increased by 13.4 percent between1997 to 2002, and more than one-fourth of U.S. farmers and ranchers are women. Various funding resources are available to this rapidly developing sector.
Grants for Businesses
The government does not typically give grants for start-up businesses, but sometimes funds expanding or improving businesses. See the Small Business Administration (SBA) planner page for opportunities (Resources).
The government provides start-up businesses with funding in the form of low-interest loans through various agencies, including the USDA. See the Business.gov page on small business loans (Resources).
Become a Nonprofit
Consider establishing your organic farm as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit, to become eligible for the majority of grants available. See the IRS page on charitable organizations for information on registering as a nonprofit (Resources).
Networks for Women
The growth in numbers of women farmers has resulted in the development of support networks offering advice and resources. See the report from ATTRANews in Resources for a list of women's farming networks.
Opportunities for Organic Farmers
Social and environmental organizations offer grants in support of research, food security and educational initiatives. Search the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service's website for these opportunities (Resources). The USDA also has a list of funding resources (References).
Erin Lierl is just beginning her professional writing career. She has experience writing grants for nonprofit organizations, and she holds a bachelor's degree in political science and Latin American studies from Loyola University New Orleans.