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Supporting the Future of Agriculture: Farm Loans for Women

Our nation’s female farmers are trailblazing a path forward and defining the future of American agriculture. 

Just as in American history, women have played crucial, yet often unrecognized roles in American agriculture. However, women always find a way to make a stand—and our nation’s female farmers are no different. Today, they are using their voices to advocate for both the future of agriculture and the role that women play in it. After decades of contributions to our nation’s agricultural operations, female farmers are finally turning heads and receiving more official and well-deserved recognition. 

Despite this growing awareness, female farmers continue to face entry barriers, making a supportive financial partner an important part of their success and resilience. To address these challenges, both farm loans for women and educational resources can help female farmers as they push forward in making their mark in American agriculture. 

The Diverse Roles of Women in Agriculture 

From landowners to university ag professors, women contribute to all areas of the industry. Whether making marketing decisions, driving a tractor, or caring for their children, these women play a crucial role in keeping American agriculture going strong. Together, they are igniting industry innovation and reshaping the way society views farmers. Some examples of jobs women hold include: 

  • Landowners; 
  • Agricultural scientists; 
  • Agricultural economists; 
  • Conservationists; 
  • Agricultural advocates; and 
  • Agricultural content creators and so much more. 

The Evolution of Women in Agriculture 

Representation of female farmers has increased significantly over the last several decades. For the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, the USDA revamped its data collection methods to be more representative of our nation’s female farmers. As a result, more female producers were identified and included in the data. According to the 2017 Census, there are 1.2 million female farmers in the U.S., representing 36 percent of our nation’s 3.4 million farmers. This is a 27 percent increase from 2012 when female farmers numbered 969,672 and comprised 30 percent of total farmers.  

Furthermore, 9 percent of farms are run entirely by women, demonstrating the ways women continue to step into leadership roles. In fact, women play an increasingly important role in decision-making on the farm. The 2017 Census found that 1.1 million, or 56 percent of total farms, had at least one female decision-maker. Moreover, 78 percent of female farmers are involved in operational decisions.  

In addition to their growing influence on farm operations nationwide, female farmers are also expanding their economic impact. The following findings from the 2017 Census quantify this impact:  

  • Female-operated farms generated 38 percent of U.S. agricultural sales in comparison to 3.3 percent in 2012; 
  • Female farmers contributed $148 billion in agricultural sales compared to $12.9 billion in 2012; 
  • 43 percent of all U.S. farmland is operated by women in comparison to 6.9 percent in 2012; and 
  • 388 million acres of farmland are operated by women. 

Note: 2012 data is derived from the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture. 

The Challenges Female Farmers Face 

In all areas of society, women have demonstrated their resilient spirit and ability to overcome systemic challenges time and time again. From the Women’s Suffrage movement to the 9to5 workplace movement, women have trailblazed their own paths forward and overcome significant obstacles. The challenges female farmers face echo challenges women often experience in all walks of life. Regardless of these obstacles, these women have and will continue finding ways to amplify their voices and contribute to the future of the American food system. 

Misperceptions  

As an industry traditionally associated with males, the role of women in agriculture has often been overlooked. However, agriculture wouldn’t be possible without the hardworking female farmers that have contributed their skills and dedication to it year-over-year. Despite this fact, these women sometimes face skepticism even though they have more than proven their ability to run successful farm operations. Even in the face of these misperceptions, these women have continued persevering and doing their part to fuel our nation while caring for their families and communities.  

Entry Barriers 

As anyone involved in agriculture knows, farming is a highly cash-intensive profession. As such, starting a new operation requires sufficient upfront capital. During this time, it is imperative to have a financial partner that understands the unique needs of beginning farmers and can provide support throughout the lifetime of their loan. Asking questions and actively seeking information is an effective way to increase industry knowledge and secure long-term operational success when first starting out.  

A Delicate Balance: Off-Farm Jobs 

According to the 2017 Census, 61 percent of women hold jobs off the farm. This means that many female farmers are juggling various responsibilities both on and off the farm. From raising children to working in the corporate world, their ability to find time to dedicate to their farm operations is inspiring and attests to the unwavering dedication of these women. 

Resources for Female Farmers 

Whatever their unique situation, there are resources to guide female farmers in their agricultural journeys. There is always something important to learn in this industry, so having access to information and tools to help with decision-making is an important contributor to success. Some helpful resources include: 

  • 12 Common Documents Needed for a Land Loan: To best assess the unique needs of farmers, various documents are needed when applying for a loan, and it’s important to have these documents organized and prepared ahead of time;  
  • Financial Health Check: There are many facets to an operation’s financial health that are important to monitor, so it’s crucial to know what to look for;  
  • Farm Loan Calculator: Understanding the payment schedule of a loan is essential to operational planning;  
  • Cultivating a Strong Borrower-Lender Relationship: Knowing what to look for in a lender and how to sustain a positive relationship are essential components of an operation’s success. 
  • Agriculture Industry Blog: Exposure to important topics and issues impacting our nation’s farmers can benefit one’s understanding of the industry and provide visibility on issues impacting farmers and ranchers; 
  • Farm Publications: Understanding the industry from various angles can help farmers form a more comprehensive view of the industry and develop a strong business plan; and 
  • Ag Legislation and Trade Updates: Staying up to date on important ag legislation and trade updates is an important part of being engaged in decisions that impact one’s operation. 

In addition to educational resources to help farmers navigate decision-making for their operations, customized financial resources are important for beginning and sustaining a thriving operation. Farm loans for women offer support to female farmers in their agricultural journey. AgAmerica supports female farmers in their efforts to buy and expand operations, secure working capital, and refinance existing debt. In addition, our Relationship Managers work with each client to provide individualized support and build solutions that set their operations up for success. 

Texas Landowner Increases Working Capital 

As mentioned earlier, female farmers often face entry barriers that make it difficult to break into the industry. Therefore, knowing where to find financial resources to start one’s agricultural journey is essential.  

In particular, access to working capital is important to running a thriving operation. Recognizing this, a female landowner in Texas refinanced an existing loan, leading to increased working capital. As a result, she was able to access capital for future expansions and operational improvements.  

Regardless of immense challenges, our nation’s female farmers embody the true spirit of The American Farmer.

As their influence in the agriculture industry increases, female farmers have demonstrated their grit, dedication, and perseverance. Even though they have always played an important role in agriculture, they are finally gaining the increased recognition that they deserve. Their impact on the agriculture industry ranges from making operational decisions that carry their farms into the future to advocating in their local communities. Together, they are defining the future of agriculture.  

AgAmerica honors the many contributions that these women continue to make in agriculture and is proud to support them. As such, we are committed to breaking down entry barriers and helping women of all backgrounds make their mark in agriculture. Through the relationships that we develop with our clients to our innovative and adaptable financing solutions, we stand behind our nation’s female farmers. 

If you are interested in supporting the longevity of your current or future operation, explore our flexible spectrum of farm loans for women. 

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