Today's reality -- only 9% of farms are fully female operated
By Haley Bilokraly
As women across the world are celebrated on International Women’s Day, let’s take a look at the statistics related to women in agriculture and the steps being taken to encourage women in the industry.
Firstly, the number of women working in agriculture is growing. There has been a 23% increase of women farm operators in Canada since 2012 with the total number rising from 969,672 to 1,227,461.
Today, it is normal to see a woman working on a farm since 51% of farms in the USA include at least one female producer. However, only 9% of farms are fully female operated.
Poultry farms are the most common farm type for female farm operators as 31% of women producers specialize in poultry. The least common farm type for a female producer is cotton farms.
Female farm operations occur across the USA with Arizona having the highest percentage, 49%, of female farm workers, Alaska has the second with 47%, then New Hampshire with the third highest at 46%.
Although these statistics are promising for women in agriculture, women have not easily been recognized in the industry. For many years, women have gone unnoticed for the hidden work they do on farms and were often left out of agriculture-related leadership opportunities. For example, in 1914 a program was created to dedicate farm education to men and educate women on home economics. Although this disregard for educating women in agriculture has since been changed, it had created lasting stereotypes and biases that are still barriers for women in the industry today.
However, it is important to celebrate the progress that has been made. This is only achievable because of the individuals and organizations who have created events, networks, programs, funding and more that is dedicated for women in agriculture.
A few examples of these initiatives include the American Agri-Women Organization, Annie Project – Education for Farm Women, and the USDA Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network.
This International Women's Day, take a moment to reflect on the promising story told through these statistics and the progress that still needs to be made for women in agriculture.