Women in Ag: Adventure and Opportunity

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture Mar 15th, 2017

By Katie Heger

No matter what a day on my family farm holds, I can be sure it will start early and with a large cup of coffee. Being active on our farm and sharing with others how we farm and why, all while raising a family, makes each day an adventure. So, with the blaring of the alarm and the percolating of the coffee pot, I jump out of bed and let the good times roll. 

Even though men are most often pictured as the faces of farming, women are actually the fastest-growing group in agriculture. We play a vital role on our family farms, and are active in the food and agriculture conversation.

Women purchase and run machinery, make seed and crop care choices, keep the books and budgets, do the shopping and meal prep, attend regular training and keep tabs on the social component within their own farm and family and the broader agricultural community. Through my personal outreach and desire to share what happens on our farm, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of inspirational women—most with different stories and backgrounds than mine.

Our farm is conventional, integrating technology and many modern approaches to raising crops. But many of the women I meet farm very differently, and many of the moms I engage with have different perspectives on what farming should look like. At first when I would have these conversations, I felt defensive, but I made it a practice first to listen and then ask lots of questions. With time and practice, I wasn’t as intimidated and defensive. These conversations became learning opportunities all around. As we shared from our personal perspectives, we began to see that even if we ate differently, parented differently, farmed differently and contributed to our families and businesses in different ways, we still had many things in common. We made informed choices that we felt were best for our families. Who can argue with that? Perhaps most importantly, we learned to be open to new perspectives, to ask more questions and to better understand our own actions, beliefs, choices.

Each day on my farm is different, but I have three main roles. First and foremost I am a caretaker. I work to make sure that everyone gets up and out the door, has been fed, laundry has been started, that there is a path through the house and it looks somewhat tidy, and that we all know the schedule for the rest of the day. My next role is farm support. Although this is a consistent role, it can look very different each day. Some days, I work in the office doing book keeping and other paperwork, making phones calls and planning. Other days, I am running for parts, driving a semi-truck, attending training, or whatever else gets tossed my way.

Advocacy is another regular and important part of my day. Again, depending on what is happening it can look very different. Sometimes advocating means talking to neighbors at the store, reading or teaching in a classroom, and sharing pictures and stories on social media. Other times it is more formal and can include speaking engagements, hosting a classroom at the farm, organizing and hosting events, or talking with the media and becoming involved in the world of politics.

A woman’s work on the farm truly is never done, but it is always an adventure. I can be sure that no two days will look alike. For me the day begins with a cup of coffee and hitting the ground running, but ends with reflection and a cup of tea. I am so grateful for how each of my roles keeps me involved, busy, challenged and active in our family, farm and community, and I wouldn’t trade my ag adventure.

Katie Heger
Farm Bureau member

Katie Heger, a member of AFBF’s GO Team, blogs at hegerfamilyfarms.wordpress.com and shares at Heger Farms on Facebook. Katie and her husband farm corn, soybeans and wheat in central North Dakota.

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