Recognizing women in agriculture

Women are a large part of the agriculture industry. Their contributions to farming have made it possible to feed people around the world. In spite of all their hard work, women are awarded only a small portion of the land, the profits and the recognition that their male counterparts receive. Women also tend to have less access to agricultural information and training that could lead to higher yields and more profitable farming operations.

Female farmers in developing nations

The lack of recognition for female farmers is especially noticeable in developing areas. On average, the agricultural workforce in developing nations is driven by a group of people that’s roughly 40 percent women, 60 percent men. Females also account for about 2/3 of the people keeping livestock in these areas. These women work the same long hours in the same difficult conditions but don’t receive the same benefits. In many cultures, women are the head of the household. Through farming, these women are able to provide food and income for their families.

American women in agriculture

In the US, women are becoming increasingly more active in the agriculture industry. In 2012 there were over 1 million female farmers, and that number continues to grow. This means there are more women working on farms, more women acting as a farm’s principal operator and more women pursuing ag-related careers. Generally, women operate smaller farms than men. Women-operated farms tend to specialize in grains and specialty crops or poultry and eggs, but there are quite a few female beef and dairy cow farmers. The actual act of farming is not the only way females are participating in the agriculture industry. Women working as scientists, economists and business leaders are also impacting the agriculture industry.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson, born May 1907, was one of the first influential women in agriculture. Her book Silent Spring was published in 1962. Carson presented valuable information about pesticides and their affects on people and the environment. Although controversy surrounds Silent Spring, Carson remains one of the most influential people in agriculture history.

Minnie Lou Bradley

Minnie Lou Bradley was the first woman to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a degree in animal husbandry in 1949. This cattlewoman and her husband lead an award-winning ranch in Texas, earning recognition for land management and genetic beef breeding. Bradley was also honored as the first female president of the American Angus Association, a member of the Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery and one of BEEF magazine’s top 50 US Beef Industry Leaders. Temple Grandin, another celebrated woman in the animal husbandry field, was an inspirational figure in Bradley’s career.

Betsy Fink

Betsy Fink co-founded Millstone Farm and works with local markets to expand their food networks. Millstone Fame is an organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture, working to educate and support farmers, communities, and organizations about farming on the local, regional and global levels.

Severine Von Tscharner Fleming

Severine Von Tscharner Fleming is a farmer and advocate from Chaplain Valley, New York. She is both founder and director of an organization called The Greenhorns. The Greenhorns is a non-profit that focuses on educating and recruiting future generations of farmers. Fleming also founded a network to support new farmers across the country and a platform for farmers to access the tools and technology they need at an affordable price.

There are millions of women around the world who are dedicating their talents, their minds and their lives to the agriculture industry. These women are often under-appreciated, but their contributions are fueling the future and feeding our families.