California Women for the Land

Empowering women landowners to conserve their land

Over the past few decades, women have entered agriculture in unprecedented numbers. Increasingly, women own farmland and run farms, making them involved in all aspects of agriculture. 

Many female farmers and landowners have a strong conservation and stewardship ethic. They are deeply committed to healthy farmland, farm families and farm communities. However, women face gender-related barriers to managing their land for long-term sustainability. While women increasingly are the primary decision makers on farms, data shows they are underrepresented in conservation programs. 

Derived from a national initiative, AFT has launched the Women for the Land initiative in California to address the obstacles that women landowners face in accessing conservation programs and resources. Women for the Land combines research, on-the-ground projects and policy efforts to transform the agricultural landscape and develop a new voice for conservation. Partnering with the USDA National Resources Conservation Service, AFT has developed three core program components: 

1) Research into Women Landowners and the Barriers They Face 

Little research exists on the millions of Americans who own and lease agricultural land, especially women. To fill this critical research gap, AFT developed a new national landowner survey to learn more about the long-term goals and needs of non-operating landowners.

2) Learning Circles to Engage Women in Conservation 

A key feature of this initiative is the learning circles which facilitate dialogue around conservation, farmland protection and succession planning. The circles are a well-tested approach pioneered by the Women, Food and Agriculture (WFAN) network that have brought nearly 4,000 women landowners together with female conservation professionals.

3) Technical Assistance and Policy Reforms to Better Serve Women Landowners

The Farmland Information Center (FIC)—AFT’s national clearinghouse of information about farmland protection and stewardship in partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service—provides customized information and technical assistance to address the needs of women landowners.

Through a website, toll-free hotline and written materials, the FIC provides knowledge and training for women landowners and their farm advisors on conservation programs, farmland protection options, sample leases and succession plans.

Visit farmlandinfo.org for more information.

AFT is also developing new federal and state policies and programs that engage women landowners and farmers. Through outreach and partnership, AFT is bringing together a group of women farmers and landowners to advocate for strong conservation policies and programs in Washington, D.C.

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