Whether working on a farm, a ranch or in an ag-related position, women have always made a big impact in agriculture. According to a report by the USDA, in recent years the share of U.S. farms operated by women nearly tripled. Include secondary operators and the number of female farmers increases to one million — or about 30 percent of all U.S. farmers working today. In fact, as many as one-third of people in the agricultural labor force are women.
Because the field is so diverse, more women than ever before are creating their own career paths and lending their unique talents. Alternative career opportunities are plentiful and can range from veterinarian to food science specialists, and horticulturists to communications experts.
Helpful Resources for Women in Agriculture
Many resources have been developed to support women as they carve their niche in agriculture. Programs designed for women address their unique challenges, foster their innovative ideas and encourage the next generation to lead the industry into the future.
- American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership program: The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership (AFBWL) program engages female farmers with the agricultural training and education they need to become powerful advocates for today’s agriculture. The program provides women with training in leadership and communication skills, as well as networking opportunities to strengthen their ability to create positive change in their communities and in the agricultural industry.
- The USDA’s Women, Land & Legacy program: This outreach program connects women with resources for making informed decisions for their land and their communities. It creates a bridge between government, nonprofit organizations, faith-based and community groups.
- FarmHER: FarmHer connects and inspires women in agriculture. Whether it be online, on the farm or ranch or at an event, this organization brings women together by telling the stories of professional ag women nationwide.
- Annie’s Project: This nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing educational programs that focus on women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise. Annie’s Project fosters problem-solving and decision-making skills to strengthen generational farms.
Forming a network doesn’t require a formal set of membership rules. These women in Wisconsin, for example, have developed a local support system that started as a simple potluck where they gather to share information and tour one another’s farms. These networks have sprouted business partnerships and resource-sharing opportunities. They serve as an example of what can be accomplished by working together.
Nurturing Early Interest
If your daughter is an animal lover, an avid gardener or someone who loves to cook, you may have a future ag professional on your hands. In other words, people don’t need to grow up on the family farm or ranch to have a career in agriculture. Because careers in agriculture are so diverse, a small interest can develop into a fulfilling career path. If you think your child may have an interest in an ag-related field, introducing them to 4-H or FFA programs may help them develop their interests into a viable future career.
Supporting the Next Generation
Through growing up on a farm and fostering a desire to stay there, or developing an interest through career exploration programs, more women than ever before are pursuing careers in agriculture. And today, there are career pathways to suit just about any interest. Finding hands-on opportunities and classes to support an interest is a great way to create connections that lead to a successful future in agriculture.
How Can You Help?
Looking for more ways to support an interest in agriculture? Get involved in your local Farm Bureau and take part in activities at a local level.