Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Results in: Woman-owned business competition, report and ag survey

Micha Ide, Bright Ide Acres, Orting, WA
Image courtesy of The Female Farmer Project

Chris McGann

Earlier this year, WSDA announced a partnership with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation, for a new program to help farm women launch or boost their businesses.
The partnership commenced by

  • Sponsoring a Women Farm to Food Business Competition
  • Conducting a gap analysis of existing training resources
  • Administering a survey of female farmers and entrepreneurs in Washington and Oregon to better understand their business needs and goals. 

Competition winners

Sage Dilts, owner of Barn Owl Bakery on Lopez Island, Wash. won the competition’s $20,000 grand prize. A list of the other prize winners are posted on NASDA Foundation’s Women in Agriculture webpage.

Gap analysis results

Of 49 training programs reviewed for the gap analysis, the report revealed that there are many programs designed to help women farmers launch businesses but far fewer available for the next step.

After starting up, business owners had only a handful of resources to turn to for training that would help expand their offerings to reach statewide and regional markets. Just six business development programs in Oregon and Washington served food entrepreneurs, the study found.

The Women in Agriculture program aims to provide resources to help bridge the gap in training for those in the “grow” stage of business development, the point between the initial business launch and scaling up to reach into national and international markets.

2019 Women in Agriculture Survey 

Lauren Anderson, Grain Artisan Bakery, Snohomish, WA
image courtesy of The Female Farmer Project
NASDA Foundation, WSDA and Oregon Department of Agriculture promoted the effort on social media and collected data from the online surveys from November 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019. A total of 301 women, the majority in Oregon and Washington, completed surveys. They posted the results this month.


Most of the women

  • Sell products at small, local markets (56 percent)
  • Own or worked on a farm (74 percent).
  • Have been developing their business for more than six years (60 percent)
  • Produce plant-based products (52 percent)
  • Have gross annual sales of less than $50,000 (82 percent)
  • Large percentages of those who completed the surveys said they were interested in activities such as help with: 
  • Learning from other women (75 percent)
  • Communication about products (69 percent)
  • Refining products and manufacturing (49 percent)
  • and scaling business teams (49 percent)

Going forward

The results will inform the program’s Women's Farm to Food Accelerator which will begin development in October. The 90-day accelerator will provide training in product development, food safety, marketing and business development to help female farmers bring their products to new state and regional markets. The accelerator will include online modules, peer-to-peer learning, a women’s mentor network, and one-on-one consultations with experts.

For more information about the program contact the (NASDA) Foundation.