Throughout history, women have participated in farming activities, even if their husbands got the credit for the work. But today, women are an acknowledged force in the farming industry, making up 30 percent of all of the country’s farm operators. In an industry that serves as the backbone of the country, it’s vital to continue to encourage young, entrepreneurial workers to go into farming. One way the government accomplishes this is to help out beginning farmers with the biggest obstacle to starting a business – lack of funding. This is especially true of females, who still remain in the minority in the farming community.
Farm Grants for Females
If you’re looking for support for your farming operation, the first place to look is the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Although the FSA doesn’t offer women and minority farm grants, it does have micro-loan programs in place with partners that will help you get the funds you need to kick off your business. The FSA sets a portion of its loans aside for underserved populations, including females and minorities.
Educational Grants for Women in Agriculture
For women interested in going into the field of agriculture through formal study, there are educational grants that can help pay for your schooling. Future Farmers of America and Mahindra Tractor have partnered to offer Women in Ag scholarships, which gives four scholarships of $2,500 each to chosen applicants. There’s also the American Agri-Women Helen Whitmore Memorial Convention Scholarship, which awards members of the national organization the money necessary to attend AAW’s annual conference, where they can network and get information to help them build and grow a successful farming operation.
General Grant Opportunities
Women farmers are eligible for the same grant opportunities as other farm owners, so it’s important to call attention to those, as well. One such program is the Farm to School Grant Program, which awards millions of dollars in grants to farmers to provide healthy meals to schoolchildren in their areas. You can also look into #Value Added Producer Grants, which occasionally awards funds to farmers engaged in activities that add value.
There are also opportunities for farmers interested in energy conservation. The Rural Energy for America Program, for instance, offers grants and loans to farmers interested in investing in renewable energy systems. You can also get assistance through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which helps farmers with the cost of growing biomass crops.