Writer’s note: As a finalist in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Excellence in Agriculture competition, I had the opportunity to share my background and contributions to agriculture, but also pressing issues I see impacting agriculture today. I’ll be covering these issues in my blog.
While the agricultural industry has come a long way in becoming an open environment for women, there’s still an underlying, often unintentional perception of the role a women plays in production agriculture, and even the jobs that support this field. More and more women are becoming sole farm owners, or are sharing the decision making with their husbands or families, and also working in careers that directly work with farmers. More young women are planning to work in agriculture. Are we really doing our best to make this an open, welcoming environment?
You might be thinking: Why should I care? Isn’t this a women’s issue? We should work to shift mindsets for a few reasons. On a personal level we all have connections to women: daughters, grandchildren, wives, girlfriends, sisters and friends. From an industry perspective there will be a huge shift in the workforce in the near future. Baby boomers will be retiring in business and farming. There will be a greater number of women stepping into roles. We need to help build a welcoming environment for this next generation, especially if we want to keep women in agriculture, especially as farmers and in careers that directly serve farmers. Finally, whether it’s a niece, neighbor, co-worker or colleague I encourage others to keep an open mind about the roles and abilities of women in agriculture
More action: Stepping up
The perceptions of women can continue to change by our own actions we take in the agricultural community and related organizations. Here’s what I’ve been doing as a farmer, who happens to be female:
While farm operation is my “thing,” my husband Scott is just as invested in it as I am. While farming is hard work, and not to mention, a lot of work to start a farm operation, it’s something we truly enjoy doing. Here’s a little more on why we farm:
It's in our roots and a way of life that we know and love. We both have grown up in agriculture. I was raised in rural Northeastern Wisconsin loving the outdoors, developing a hands-on approach to life and actively participating in ag education and FFA. Scott grew up on a dairy farm in Northwestern Wisconsin. We both started our careers in agriculture working for organizations that provide supplies and services to farmers. Scott continues to do so today, while I now farm. While farming is hard work, both physical and brain power, it's a way of life we enjoy. We are thankful to be a part of agriculture and raise a family on the farm.
We love the outdoors and the land. As land owners, we're proud that we care for our land in a way that not only benefits our livestock and pasture, but also the soil and wildlife. It also the reason why we rotationally graze our goats and pasture poultry.
Making something our own. As a small business owner, there's not a better feeling of building something of our own. It's our farm and planning that's moving it forward. As we continue to grow, it's motivating to see our hard work and business plans pay off.
Doing our part to provide nutritious food to our greater community. This doesn't really need much more explanation. It is what it is and we're glad to play a part in our regional food and ag system.
If you're involved in agriculture, what’s your reason or why are you passionate about it?
This is a big week for our family and the farm. I’m now down to one job – managing our growing farm full time. Mother Nature also welcomed me to the job with a nice cold snap. But, I don’t mind.
We made the decision after Scott started his new job and is traveling more regularly. It just made sense to make the change, though it was a little unexpected. I was planning to move in this direction in the next 3-5 years, but the opportunity came earlier than we anticipated.
I’m excited to focus my time on building our herd and being more intentional in planning and making decisions for animal health and management, more time on planning pasture use and quality, more time building out our direct-marketing and, even more importantly, more flexibility with our family time. Up to this point I’ve been doing my best to be intentional in my decision making, but it was always done randomly every few days or weeks when my son was in bed for the night, there was a block of time or something was pressing.
Yes, there’s a common theme – more time. It’s funny, but I’m already finding there’s still not enough time. But, that’s the story of life. Now, I just feel more settled knowing that I’m making more noticeable strides in moving the farm forward.
Also gives Scott more time to focus on specific projects (that I assign) rather than trying to jam in daily chores along with traveling for work and just being a parent. But, I’ve found that he’s already started a farm project list for me. I can already see, or know for that fact, that I’ll be expanding my so-called skills, in particular in the area of machinery. Bring it on!
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats and dairy buck kids all on pasture. We also harvest maple sap. Read more here.
Keep up Day-to-Day with the farm:
Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.