The Truth about Women in Ag

This is not a “woe is me” I am a woman in a man’s world. This is a post about how to make yourself stand out as a woman in agriculture. 

Women are making a difference in agriculture, on the farm and in the office. According to the USDA, 31% of American farmers were women. But that does not even cover the women that are involved in the industry, not as farmers.

When researching women’s involvement in agriculture, I found some interesting information. In the state of Alabama (where I live) state youth organizations have a high level of female involvement – in one organization, 64% of the presidents in the last 14 years were female. However, when I measured the state “young” agriculture organizations the numbers were closer to 25% of past leaders were females. In state organizations less than 10% of leaders (on average) were female.

I do not have the answers to why, or how to change this. But I think a lot of it involves support and confidence. This blog will hopefully inspire you to make yourself stand out and feel comfortable joining the conversation.

Own your shit

women in agriculture
Whether you’re good at something or bad at something, own it. Don’t ever be embarrassed by not being good at something. But definitely never be ashamed for being great at something. Be proud, don’t let that get overshadowed or oversimplified by others.

This is one that I have realized all people, but especially women struggle with. The biggest piece to this is believing in yourself. If you don’t believe you can do something, no one else will either.

Accept your differences

So many women aim to do everything guys can do, but that is not necessary. Aim to do the best you can at everything that you do. For a great example of how to do this, read this post from Adrian Brannan, Buckaroogirl. It is one of my all time favorites.

If you don’t have time to read it, here is my favorite excerpt: As a woman, you were created to be something more. Someone tough in ways that are almost impossible. Someone that can handle more than she should be able to.

But also realize, no matter your gender, you will never get something you don’t ask for… a job, a raise, a promotion, a bigger piece of land, a portion of your family’s farm.

Share your story

Step up, stand up, take a seat at the table to create change. Sharing your story allows you to impact consumers by teaching them about agriculture.  Bruce Vincent, author of Against the Oddsexplained in a talk recently that agriculture cannot operate without the social consent of the public. This means we need the public to understand what we do. To read more about why advocating is important, visit this past blog.

Women supporting each other.
But more importantly sharing your story shows other women what a strong, successful woman in agriculture is capable of accomplishing. One of my favorite quotes from FarmHer is “Images change perceptions. Perceptions become reality. A new reality means equal treatment, pay, opportunities, involvement and recognition.” So share images and share your story in a way that allows others to see the truth about women in agriculture.

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The Truth About EPA’s Water of the United States Rule

In 1972 the EPA created the Clean Water Act to protect Americans and their water supply. In 60 days, if Congress doesn’t intervene, an update will take effect that will hinder the farmers that grow our food, fiber, and fuel.

Why will the new Water of the United States Rule (WOTUS) hinder farmers? Because under the new expansion any standing water in a field, pasture, or ditch is considered “navigable waters” and a permit is required to conduct business near them.

Corn, rain, WOTUSWith the amount of rain that has hit parts of this nation, it is not uncommon to drive down the road and see fields and pastures with large puddles in them. Because of the ambiquity of the new Clean Water Act expansion, the federal government could argue that this water belongs to the United States and a permit will be required to work around it. The EPA says that exemptions exist for agriculture, but industry leaders are nervous that that might not be the case once the rule is enacted.

“This rule will provide the clarity and certainty businesses and industry need about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and it will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable,” said President Barack Obama. This comment from President Obama seems hopeful, except the rule offers no clarity, only more confusion.

“Let’s be clear – everyone wants clean water,” said Steve Foglesong, past president of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Farmers and ranchers rely on clean water to be successful in business. But, expanding the federal regulatory reach of the EPA and Army Corp does not equal clean water. After reading the proposed rule, I can say that only one thing is clear, the proposed rule and its definitions are ambiguous.”

Farmer, Rain, EPA, WOTUSA farmer recently tweeted this picture of a field in his area that will have to be replanted after all of the rain. If Congress does not stop the new rule the farmer would likely have to apply for a permit to be able to replant his own land, because the water would belong to the United States government.

Opponents of the rule question if there will be any measurable environemental gains to show for the work done by farmers and landowners to jump through the new regulatory hoops. During the drafting of the rule, the EPA collected over one million comments in the comment period, which ended six months ago. Those opposed to the rule do not believe this was enough time to process all of the comments and adequately address the concerns in them.

Farmers are not angry that the EPA wants to help provide Americans with clean water, they are nervous about how the new rule, which can be read here, will affect production because of its ambiquity. Farm groups are nervous because the terminology used in the rule opens up possibilites for the EPA to regulate anywhere water occurs, or has occured in the past. The truth is this new rule could greatly affect all Americans, whether it be through water on their land or place of business, or by an increase in food prices.