Encouraging Microloan Applications from Women-Owned Farms
What was the challenge?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) aimed to to increase the rate at which female farmers participate in the Direct Farm Operating Microloan program.
What was the program change?
FSA and OES sent direct mailers to female farmers in Spring 2016. The mailers included an image with a female farmer, information about the Microloan program, and instructions about how to contact the local loan officer.
How did the evaluation work?
Direct mailers were sent to randomly selected female farmers within randomly selected counties, with each treatment county matched to a comparison county. This design enabled OES to assess both (1) the impact of the direct mailer on the likelihood that a farmer who received it would apply for a microloan and (2) the potential impact, through spread of information, on other female farmers who lived near those who received the mailer.
What was the impact?
The mailer appeared to have no statistically reliable effect on the likelihood that direct recipients applied for microloans. Unexpectedly, female farmers who lived near recipients were slightly less likely to apply for microloans.