The University of Maryland Extension conducted the Mid-Atlantic Farmwomen’s Network in 2012. This program delivered risk and farm management training to women through a variety of learning environments including: 1) eight-week sessions of the national program, “Annie’s Project”, focusing on risk management education specifically designed for women and “dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise”; 2) a six-week second level Annie’s Project course (“Managing for Today and Tomorrow”), providing a more in-depth focus on financial and farm transition planning; 3) a multi-state Regional Women in Ag conference attended by 158 participants from five states, featuring three keynote presenters and 20 breakout sessions; and 4) quarterly newsletters and farm tours/events. Through these combined educational opportunities, women in the Mid-Atlantic region have received support and training to manage the financial, legal, price, production and human risks associated with their agribusinesses. Portions of this programming were conducted in collaboration with University of Delaware Extension, Delaware State University Extension, and Rutgers University Extension.
Of the 33 participants who completed a survey following the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Annie’s Project, all 33 indicated they would take the following actions: write a business and marketing plan, use computers to increase their farm efficiency, check their credit reports, prepare financial statements, and use Personality IQ to increase communication; 31 said they would update or create an estate plan; 30 planned to change their insurance policy, and 20 intended to review their property titles and lease agreements. Of 158 women who attended the 2013 Regional Women in Ag Conference, 156 rated the educational value as good or excellent, and 134 indicated they felt more prepared to make informed decisions on the farm. In addition, 118 reported they had made changes to their agricultural business as a result of attending past Regional WIA Conferences.
Participant Success Stories
When asked what Annie’s Project had done for her and others, one participant replied, “It has helped me start a business plan for the farm, and (begin) trying to save the farm for the next generation…it showed the ole’ farmers the possibilities of change and how that change can make a difference in their futures instead of farming the way they have for the past 40 years. It gave the farm HOPE!” She continued, “It has taught me to take a look at the details of farming. We have found mistakes (by) the person who was handling our crop insurance. We were given wrong advice. We would have accepted that advice, but after talking to one of the speakers, he showed us what a huge mistake that would have been financially for the farm”. She concluded, “Bottom line: Annie’s has taught me to dream, dream big, dream bold! And with the right tools the world in full of possibilities!”