Earlier this year, National Farmers Union (NFU) saluted the growing role of women in agriculture and their invaluable contributions to family farming. “Women have always played a critical role in family farming,” NFU president Roger Johnson said. “That role is increasing dramatically as the number of women who are farmers in the U.S. has grown to roughly one million strong.”
NFU and many other local and regional organizations have developed educational programming and outreach tools to identify and empower women to help improve their farming skills. This outreach, which includes business acumen, leadership training and hands-on practical experience, is helping women succeed in their growing role on the nation’s farms and in its farm organizations.
Here are a few select ones:
The Women, Food and Agriculture Network, an Iowa-based group whose ranks have swelled from about 300 members six years ago to nearly 5,000, now reaches more than 25 states and several countries. This network exists so that women can give each other the information, connections and encouragement they need to be effective practitioners and supporters of sustainable agriculture and healthy localized food systems.
American Agri-Women is the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women with more than 50 state, commodity and agribusiness affiliate organizations throughout the country.
The Rural Women’s Project of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) supports women farmers and food-based “ecopreneurs” in Wisconsin, providing resources, networking and collaborative opportunities to champion new business start-ups that support food system change.
Annie’s Project is an educational program dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise. The project was launched in 2003 by the University of Illinois; educational classes are now conducted in 33 states around the country.
The Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network supports women in agriculture by providing positive learning environments, networking, and empowerment opportunities.
The Femme Farmer Project is a unique journalistic account of women farmers and ranchers in the West. Elizabeth Zach, based in Sacramento, Calif., traveled around the West interviewing, photographing, and writing about women farmers and ranchers.