The 2012 Women Managed the Farm conference was held in Wichita over the weekend and again delivered a great mix of informative break out sessions, entertaining general session speakers and opportunities to mix and mingle with other women from across Kansas – all with a love of rural America and the agriculture industry.
Women are not often part of the public’s mental picture of agriculture. It’s a man’s industry and man’s work that has no place for women. But that is increasingly becoming an inaccurate picture. From 2002 to 2007, women’s role in agriculture grew 30 percent. That figure is likely to only increase as more and more females find places in agriculture industries and the family farm.
It was obvious by looking at the 250-some attendees at this weekend’s conference that just because women are not often the ones behind the wheel of a combine doesn’t mean they aren’t a vital component of the industry. They often play less obvious roles that are just as vital as the men who plant the seeds are harvest the grain.
Today, women like myself who married into a family farming operation are working off the farm to provide a stable income and benefits for my family while also using social and traditional media sources to advocate on behalf of agriculture. More and more women, like Kansas’ own Debbie Lyons-Blythe are choosing to take the reigns of the business. And as landowners age, women are increasingly finding themselves holding the deeds and the decision-making power for hundreds of thousands of acres of farm and pasture land. The situations are unique and women are more and more stepping up to fill the void and help move forward the entire industry.
Women are vital to the future success of the agriculture industry. We are more and more beginning to realize and take advantage of that opportunity. Women are educating themselves on the factors and markets that influence agriculture. They are advocating to the public and lawmakers on behalf of their farms and the industry as a whole and are, probably most importantly, supporting their families and others that choose to dedicate their life and careers to feeding the world and provided the safest and more affordable source of food, fiber and fuel found in this world. Women will help lead the agriculture industry into the next century and will someday stand side-by-side with the men in the public’s image of farming and ranching.