WHO SAYS GIRLS CAN’T FARM?
Let’s talk about women in ag! Because two of the twelve farmers we profiled this past year were women (Janie Burns in September, and Mary Hillebrecht in December), we think we should bring the subject up.
Women have always worked in farming and ranching – have always worked, assisting their husbands or fathers in the family operation. Their roles typically were to keep the garden and the hens, and perhaps a side enterprise like a small fruit orchard or a breeding operation. With their children, they would perhaps operate the farm stand. They would drive equipment during planting or harvest, run errands, get parts, and the keep the books. Women frequently still do these tasks, but their roles on the farm are changing.
They are becoming the primary operators.
Not only are more women coming home to operate the farm after college; of all farmers in the U.S., 14% of primary decision makers now are women. Not only this, but more and more ag related jobs are now filled by women. Did you know that the state directors of agriculture in Idaho, California and Oregon are women? Wow!
In the days of old, farm work took brawn and muscle. It wore men and livestock out, and kept women from doing the majority of outdoor work. Of course, women still are, in most cases, the primary caregiver of children, home and hearth. But nowadays, what with the “brawn factor” diminishing, and the “brain factor” needed, women are jumping up saying, “I can do that!” and are entering the farming profession more than ever.
More and more farm tasks are mechanized and computerized. Irrigating, lifting, hauling, scraping and moving machinery are automated, to reduce the danger of injury and to make farms more efficient. Whether an operation is 100 acres or 1,000 acres, they now tend to be more sophisticated and automated than even a decade ago.
Women are nurturers, they tend to be gentler with injured or growing animals, quieter and more patient when working with livestock, frequently more tuned to the nuances and earthly details which farming requires.
Women, too, can be excellent managers, dealing with employees, buying inputs and selling crops and livestock. These tasks are every bit as important to a successful farming operation as tilling the soil.
If you are a girl of any age, or if you know of a girl interested in farming – encourage her! It may be that the DAUGHTER of the family is the best choice to take over the family farm. The fields of agriculture; farm and ag. management, ag. engineering, ag. education, agronomy, soil science, animal science and ranching are wide open to anyone and everyone who wishes to enter it.
Additionally, there are special loans and grants available for women entering agri-business or farming. This gives those women who wish to begin a new enterprise or expand an existing one the opportunity to do so. It’s not only a man’s world anymore!
Women can farm! And why not?