Women Cropping Up in Ag

Though most people associate farming and agriculture-related jobs as “men’s work,” the truth to the stereotype is that more and more women throughout America are becoming involved in the agriculture industry.

U.S. Women in Ag Facts (2007 Census of Agriculture)
  • Of the 3.3 million U.S. farm operators, 30.2 percent — or more than 1 million — were women; The total number of women operators increased 19 percent from 2002
  • Arizona boasts the most women farm operators
  • The states with the least percentages of women principal operators are in the Midwest
  • Most women operate farms that are 210 acres
  • Most women-operated farms are family or individually owned
  • Most women produce “other crops,” such as tobacco, cotton, sugarcane
  • The average value of sales from a female-operated farm is $36,440
  • Most female farm operators are 58 years old
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), male farm operators outnumber women by more than double as of 2007. There are almost three times as many male farm principal operators than female. However, there are twice as many female second-operators than men.

Because of the gender disparity in farm operations, several resources exist to help bring awareness to and close the gap.

The Farm Service Agency's website for Women in Agriculture strives to “augment the number of women in leadership positions throughout the agricultural sector and within government and our communities.” For example, it provides scholarships for women pursuing agricultural careers.

FarmerJane.org is another resource dedicated to the efforts of farming women nationwide. “As farmers, moms, businesswomen, chefs and activists, women are changing the way we eat and farm. They are the fastest growing demographic to own and operate sustainable farms, comprise the largest percentage of sustainable agriculture nonprofit employees, own sustainable food businesses, cook the majority of household meals and control household budgets. ‘Farmer Janes’ are creating a more healthful, sane and sustainable food system for present and future generations,” it states. The site features profiles of women who share their individual farming experiences via a blog.

Agriculture.com launched an auxiliary site – “Women in Ag” – that is an educational, informational and inspirational resource. The interest group also has a popular Facebook account with more than 1,500 members.

The subject of women in agriculture is becoming so popular, that there is now a television program devoted to it.
The American Agri-Women Show (AAW) is a series by, for and about farm and ranch women. In this half-hour series, AAW brings a weekly topic of concern to farm, ranch and agribusiness women and shares information about how to manage risk in agricultural operations. Each show features expert advice and includes a visit with a farm woman who is addressing that issue in her farming operation. To view shows, visit http://vimeo.com/channels/110360.

Throughout the year, several conferences highlight the role of women in farming:
  • Oklahoma: “Women In Agriculture,” Sept. 14, 2010
  • Vermont: “2010 Women in Sustainable Agriculture,” Nov. 1, 2010
  • Missouri: “American Agri-Women Convention,” Nov. 11, 2010
  • Iowa: “Women in Denim,” Jan. 21, 2011
Women will only continue to advance in the agriculture sector. It will be interesting to learn about the increases and further development of females in America’s farming community after the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Photo obtained from: farmerjane.org

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