By Cyndie Shearing
The Agriculture Department’s just-unveiled Census of Agriculture revealed that 36% of U.S. farmers are women and 56% of all farms have at least one female decision maker. Also of note, according to USDA, farms with female producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production. Women farmers are most heavily engaged in day-to-day farm and ranch decisions, along with recordkeeping and financial management.
The release of the new census data is timely for the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Program, which recently launched “Women in Ag,” an online survey that aims to gauge the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture in a variety of areas.
All women who are farmers, ranchers, farm/ranch employees, employed in agricultural businesses, pursuing ag-related higher education or supportive of agriculture in other ways are invited to participate in the survey at fb.org/women. Respondents must reside in the United States.
“This comprehensive survey asks women in-depth questions about how they are connected to agriculture and what leadership skills they think are most important today, as well as the top business challenges they’re facing,” noted Sherry Saylor, an Arizona farmer and chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. Farm Bureau is seeking input from all women involved in agriculture – not just members – for the survey.
Data collected from respondents will be used to gauge trends related to the achievements of women in agriculture including leadership positions, business successes and election to public office. Results from the survey are slated for release in the fall and will add to findings gleaned from a similar survey conducted in 2014.
The AFB Women’s Leadership Committee is sponsoring the survey and is working with other farm and agriculture organizations to encourage participation. Participants will be entered to receive one of five $100 gift cards after the survey closes on June 21.
Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.