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Paving a Way for Women in Agriculture

March is women’s history month and national agricultural week. So, this week on the blog we wanted to talk about being women in Agriculture. If you haven’t guessed by now, agriculture is just as much of a social scene in our rural community as it is a career; therefore, the people who work within ag are always a topic of discussion. To paint a picture to start our discussion. Imagine a custom chopping operation rolling up to your farm, and once the trucks are parked, out pop a couple of guys and 3 girls ready to harvest the crop. WHAT! MIND BLOWN! Now, this doesn’t happen all the time, but we have done this on several occasions and three of us sisters have been an integral part in making sure a farmer's crop gets harvested for their animals.  


Now in today's society, women working in agriculture is more common. The Farmland Trust cited that 51% of farming operations have at least one woman operator on their farms. We are grateful to see this evolution. We ladies are bridging the gap into a male-dominated career and this week we wanted to share our experience being a part of it!



Don’t get me wrong, women have been a part of agriculture since the dawn of time, but the capacity to which they participate has evolved over the years. We have been following many individuals in the agriculture community on social media for a few years now. The debate between some women now is: are we farmer’s wives or are we farmers? Traditionally, the men are known as the farmers, and the women support the farmer and they are farmer’s wives. When our dad talks about our grandma, she would be the traditional “farmer’s wife” because she was a homemaker, but in the same breath, she was out in the milkhouse milking the cows and doing chores. So, is she not a farmer? We only bring this up because verbiage has truly been a struggle for many women in agriculture and we are constantly battling if we are "allowed" to call ourselves farmers. While some still prefer to be the “farmer’s wife” and take on that homemaker role, other women have taken a more active role in the everyday responsibilities on the farm and state their career as “farmer”. 


Like we said earlier the term farmer isn’t just a career to many. It represents a lifestyle and a community you get to be part of. Almost like a secret society in rural communities! No wonder it is hard for women to identify themselves as a farmer. 


Before we move on, we wanted to say that no matter what role in agriculture you define yourself as, it doesn't matter because everyone is important to the success of the farming business. All roles are really important and necessary! 


Our experience as female farmers has been overall really well received by our family and the community we are in. A big factor we have had to overcome is ASSUMPTIONS. Because anything slightly different takes time to adjust to. Since assumptions were a big hurdle we had to manage through, it took persistence and constant discussions from us girls to let our dad know we wanted to try this work, especially with equipment operation. With everything, practice makes perfect, and after we finally were able to operate one piece of equipment consistently with good results we were allowed to move to more complicated pieces. Working with other male farmers, we could see the first few times we worked together, there was some hesitation that we were not going to be able to accomplish the task (assumptions), but as with anyone we had to prove ourselves. Once we did, all the men were great to work with and treated us just like one of the guys! 



Finally, we think the biggest reason why women are hesitant to work in agriculture today is OURSELVES. We are constantly in our heads about how we are going to perform and what we are going to look like in farming. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of other farmers, or we just don’t flat-out believe in ourselves. Today, the stigma that women can’t be working in agriculture is all in our heads and we have to overcome our fears to have a place at the table! 


From one farmer to another, you can do it! To our community, don’t be surprised if you see a lot more from us women in the coming future! Happy Women’s history month, and we are so grateful for the women before us who have paved the way for us to have that seat at the table!



Love,

Olivia, Tabby, Gina, & Kendra







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