By Cyndie Shearing
With women making up more than one-third of U.S. farmers and ranchers – and that number growing every year – there’s no reason those numbers should not also be rising in ag leadership positions as well. That’s according to Morgan Norris, a Florida native who completed a one-year term as chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee in mid-March.
“The numbers show that we are no longer on the sidelines,” Norris says. “I encourage all women involved in agriculture to step up and seek leadership positions that interest them. We deserve the same seat at the table as any other farmer or rancher.” Further, in her experience, “If you are willing to step up and speak out on issues affecting you and topics you are passionate about, and take on the projects you can lead well, you will be recognized and respected as a leader.”
Norris, who owns an ag marketing company, describes her Farm Bureau leadership experience – both in Florida and on the national level – as “an incredible platform to represent agriculture, share the importance of our industry and truly be the voice of agriculture.”
Norris’ leadership as chair of AFBF’s YF&R Committee led to her selection to represent all of U.S. agriculture at the International Young Farmers’ Forum sponsored by the German Ministry of Agriculture in January as part of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture. In addition to representing the U.S. at this prestigious event, which brought together young farmers from all continents, Norris was honored to be one of two individuals who presented the final statement of the group to 78 ministers of agriculture. The statement expressed the young farmers’ recommendations on how to feed the world in times of pandemics and climate change.
While acknowledging that being a young woman in the male-dominated field of agriculture poses some challenges, “That did not keep me from advocating for the industry I am incredibly passionate about,” Norris says.
Norris also serves on AFBF's Grassroots Outreach (GO) Team. AFBF is featuring her and several other women leaders in agriculture as part of its Women In Ag series during March (Women’s History Month).
Cyndie Shearing is director of communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.