NFU: Women Build Community at Annual Conference

Between consistently low commodity prices, chronic  overproduction, a rapidly changing climate, and trade uncertainty, it’s a difficult time to be a farmer. But women farmers face a whole host of other problems on top of all of that: difficulty finding appropriately sized tools and machinery, being excluded from succession planning,  sexism from other farmers, discrimination from lenders and government agencieshealth risks associated with pregnancy, and child care responsibilities, among other challenges.

Because the majority – 64 percent – of American farmers are men, these issues aren’t often addressed in agricultural education programs. National Farmers Union (NFU), an early supporter of women’s suffrage, has been working to overcome this gender disparity for the duration of its 117-year existence. The general farm organization has offered women-focused educational programming for many decades and continues to prioritize the specific needs and interests of women farmers.

Kate Greenberg spoke about her experience as Colorado’s first woman agriculture commissioner.

From January 19-21, NFU continued its ongoing effort for gender equity at its annual Women’s Conference in San Diego, California. Farmers, policy makers, educators, and specialists presented on many of the obstacles that women in agriculture regularly confront and provided practical information on farm business planning, cooperative development, self care, accessing capital, hiring farm labor, and running for elected office and other leadership positions. These speakers represent a variety of agricultural organizations, including AgriSafe, Women Food and Agriculture Network, American AgCredit, and Farm Commons. In the keynote address, Kate Greenberg, the first woman to serve as Colorado’s Agriculture Commissioner, and Alexis Taylor, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, spoke about their paths to leading state agriculture departments, the challenges they’ve faced along the way, and the importance of diverse representation in agricultural leadership.

But technical skills aren’t the only thing a farmer needs to run a successful farm business – she also needs the help and support of her community from time to time. Yet due to the gender imbalance in the industry, that community may not be physically present. Instead, many women farmers connect with friends and mentors from across the country at conferences and conventions and stay in touch via phone, email, and social media. NFU’s Women’s Conference facilitated these connections through networking and social events throughout the course of the conference.

See the full agenda here and view more photos from the event here.

National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.