More females for farming
UVM program supports women in agriculture
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 21:09
A UVM program guiding female farmers to economic independence is just a small part of a national movement that has been rapidly growing.
The U.S. Census on Agriculture recently announced that the number of farms owned and operated by females has increased by 29 percent between the years 2002 and 2007, according to Agriculture Weekly.
The Women’s Agricultural Network, a group that provides education and technical assistance geared to the needs of women farmers, is one of the programs that has helped female Vermonters overcome the challenges of breaking into the male-dominated profession of farming, the UVM website stated.
“For the 10-year period from 1997 to 2007, the increase [in female-owned farms] was an astounding 46 percent,” AG Weekly stated. “Arguably, there is no other traditionally male-dominated vocation that is experiencing such a rapid increase in participation by women.”
As the number of female-owned farms grows, so does the number of crops produced by women, which may soon overcome that of traditional factory farms, according to AG Weekly.
“It is conceivable that ... females who are already producing close to 75 percent as much food as the giants in the industry will someday very soon be producing more food for the nation than all the factory farms out there,” AG Weekly stated.
The Women’s Agricultural Network began in 1994 with a grant from the USDA Farm Services Agency and since then, the number of women in the program has grown steadily, said Mary Peabody, director of the network.
“Many of the women that we work with did not grow up on farms and are not familiar with the requirements of a farm business,” Peabody said.
On average, the Agricultural Network helps and provides education to 200-250 individuals through classes, hands-on education, workshops and personal mentoring, according to the UVM website.
“We are able to help them understand the rules and regulations that apply to agriculture as well as able to introduce them to the many resources available,” Peabody said.
During its 17 years of operation, the network has grown to fit the needs of a variety of women in different levels of knowledge and experience, she said.
“We have learned that many women feel more comfortable learning and asking questions in groups where the other participants are also women with similar needs and experiences,” Peabody said.
Junior Ashley Moore said she believes increasing the connectivity of women involved in farming is a good thing.
“I think it’s great that like-minded women sharing similar values and similar passions can get together and learn and teach each other valuable skills in the farming business,” Moore said.