Farm Grants for Women

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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of women-owned farms in America has steadily increased since 1978. The federal government and local communities have a stake in seeing farms succeed, and women-owned farms are an important aspect of preserving the United States’ agricultural strength.

Women-owned farms a growing segment of US agriculture.
Women-owned farms a growing segment of US agriculture.

History

Maintaining the agricultural stability of the United States through education, technology and assistance to American farmers was first recognized as an important priority during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. President Lincoln established the USDA in 1862. Today, the USDA is one of the leading supporters of women in agriculture.

President Lincoln made agriculture a national priority.
President Lincoln made agriculture a national priority.

Types

Farm grants are not solely financial in nature, they also come in the form of education, technology, equipment, livestock, labor, seeds and land. They cover all areas and types of farming; from dairy farming to hydroponic vegetable farms. Since women are termed as a minority class, there are agricultural grants established specifically for women farmers, but, women are not prevented from applying for grants that do not have a gender distinction.

Modernizing farm equipment is the goal of some available grants.
Modernizing farm equipment is the goal of some available grants.

Qualifications

The specific qualifications for a grant are dependent upon the issuing entity. Beyond being a woman-owned farm there are other qualifications you may have to meet. In some cases you may have to show need, in others, a willingness to implement new technologies and, in still others, you may be required to play a role in the research of new seeds, fertilizers or feeds. Every grant has its own rules, restrictions and deadlines.

Being willing to plant a new type of grain could get you a grant.
Being willing to plant a new type of grain could get you a grant.

Sources

Grants are issued from two primary sources: the government--federal or state--and private enterprises. Federal and state resources would include the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Department of Rural Development, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. A comprehensive listing of available federal grants can be found through the "Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance." Private sources would include groups such as American Agi-Women and Heifer International.

places like Heifer International give grants of livestock.
places like Heifer International give grants of livestock.

Considerations

Applying for a grant is not something you should do when you are desperate for money because the process can take weeks or even months. You also need to keep in mind that writing an effective and successful grant proposal--especially one for the federal government--usually requires technical skills that most people have not acquired. Network with other women in agriculture to help you find sources to assist you with the grant applications.

Searching for grants is something you should do before you are down to your last penny.
Searching for grants is something you should do before you are down to your last penny.

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