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Family Farm Forum Focuses On Rural Women

The first-ever Family Farm Forum was held in Lethbridge this week to increase the recognition and understanding of women's important involvement in the family farm.
University of Lethbridge Graduate Student, Diane McKenzie, was one of the main organizers of the event on Tuesday, November 27 and is also a farmer on a mixed operation West of Warner geared towards raising Hereford seed stock cattle.
McKenzie says she helped put on the event because she felt there's a disconnect between academia and women with their boots on the ground.
"I also feel that there aren't that many platforms for women in agriculture to tell their perspective," she said. "You know, given a chance to voice some of the things that concerns them about the inter-generational transfer of the family farm and succession planning."
McKenzie says part of her graduate studies research examines women not having a history of landownership and the impacts it has today.
"I'm hopeful that people maybe will look at how that's still sort of promoted, even if it's unconscious, and be more conscious of that, and maybe imagine a different future for women and connections to land."
She also interview 21 farm women from across the prairie provinces from three generations to examine if there are changes in traditions starting to take place.
However, she notes it's important to remember when reflecting on the past, it can't be painted all good or all bad.
"Those traditions and the love of the land, those are just two of the things that make people want to be farmers, so we can't let go of everything, but maybe look at it in a different light and imagine a more inclusive and more equitable future for women in agriculture."
She says the next part of her work looks at women's love of the land and farming, and how it translates into the succession planning decision making process.
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