Breaking the Barn Ceiling

We hear about women breaking the glass ceiling, but is there a term for this in the agriculture industry?

Recently, I heard a really cool statistic: there are nearly 1 million female farmers in the U.S. According to a USDA Economic Research Service report released in April this number includes both primary and secondary operators and makes up 30% of U.S. farmers.

This new information made me feel incredibly empowered. I immediately pictured Scarlet O’Hara saying, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”

I’d never really thought about the female farmer before and the more I read the more I realized how little I know about farming in general. As the Thank a Farmer campaign points out, “Consumers know little about farming and agriculture other than what is depicted in the media, which many times misrepresents the farmer and the complete truth.”

Prior to hearing about the USDA study I had no idea that there was such a movement behind women in agriculture. The report also stated that the number of woman-operated farms more than doubled, increasing from 121,600 to 306,200, between the years 1982 and 2007 across all sale classes (I also had no idea what “sale class” meant Thanks for the explanation, Serious Eats).

Today’s female farmers are sowing the seeds of progress for the next generation.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan highlighted in the USDA ERS report that “younger women are entering farming faster than older women are leaving.” This means that women-operated farms will be cropping up even more in the future, a trend that will hopefully continue.

Scarlett would be so proud.

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