> Focus On Agriculture

Celebrating Women in Agriculture

Guest Author

Special Contributor to FB.org

photo credit: AFBF Photo, Philip Gerlach

Today, nearly 1 million women are U.S. farm operators, according to the Agriculture Department. As farm operators, they do the work or make day-to-day decisions about planting and harvesting crops, feeding livestock, marketing and so on. Operators may be owners, members of the owner's household, hired managers, tenants, renters or sharecroppers.

Women involved in agriculture as farmers or ranchers - and in related occupations - are being celebrated throughout March (Women's History Month) in a variety of ways including on social media using the hashtag #WomenInAg.

Earlier this month, the American Farm Bureau celebrated several women members, including Isabella Chism, Marieta Hauser and Lillian Ostendorf.

Chism, vice chair of the AFB Women's Leadership Committee, reached out to the public in a National Ag Day (March 15) blog post. She wrote, "On our farm we are embracing innovation as we use global positioning satellites and auto-steer guidance systems to prepare the soil, plant and harvest our crops. This technology benefits the soil and the environment and it can help increase crop yields while lowering input costs."

Chism is a graduate of Indiana Farm Bureau's "FB to DC" leadership training program. She's also a Women's Communications Boot Camp graduate and member of AFBF's GO Team.

K-State Research and Extension News profiled Hauser, a Farm Bureau leader from Kansas.

Hauser "has risen through the ranks to be a key leader in agriculture," noted K-State. This included her early involvement in grassroots Farm Bureau activities at the county level, service as a Kansas Farm Bureau leader and current position in national leadership on the AFB Women's Leadership Committee and as a member of AFBF's Grassroots Outreach Team (GO Team). She and her husband, Tom, farm 3,200 acres of dryland wheat and milo.

Ostendorf and her husband, Tom, both native Montanans, are third-generation ranchers with a herd of 500 cow/calf pairs. The fourth generation of the family - their son, oldest daughter and her husband and family - is actively ranching with them. They have a dryland operation in a semi-arid region with an average annual rainfall of 12 inches.

Ostendorf was elected to the AFB Women's Leadership Committee in 2012. She is also the Montana Women's Leadership Committee district five chair. She served as Montana Women's Leadership Committee chair and on the Montana Farm Bureau Federation board for 11 years. She is also a Women's Communications Boot Camp graduate and member of AFBF's GO Team.

Two other women involved in agriculture and Farm Bureau that you'll hearing about during Women's History Month are Danielle Clark of Wisconsin and Carolyn Olson of Minnesota. Follow #WomenInAg on social media for more information.

Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.