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[16days_discussion] Fwd: USA - Surge in Women Farm Owners/Operators - Addressing Inequalities

radha paudel rpaudel456 at
Sun Sep 23 13:29:33 EDT 2012

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: WUNRN ListServe <list at>
Date: 21 September 2012 12:50
Subject: USA - Surge in Women Farm Owners/Operators - Addressing
To: WUNRN_ListServe at




By Maurice Hladik - WeNews Commentator - September 20, 2012****

*US female farmers are very quietly gaining ground and causing what might
be the biggest, quietest shakeup of a male-dominated industry. But a "grass
ceiling" limits their government and financial supports.*

[image: Farm]****

*Credit: Let Ideas Compete on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND

(WOMENSENEWS)--If you think you're seeing more women running farms in the **
**United States****, you're right. Female farmers have indeed been gaining
huge ground.****

And despite some stereotypes, this isn't an enlarged version of growing
vegetables in a home garden either. Female farmers run dairies and cattle
ranches and grow wheat, corn, cotton and soybeans, just for starters.****

Between the 2002 and 2007 U.S. Census on Agriculture, the number of farms
owned and operated by women increased by 29 percent to reach a total of 14
percent of all farms.****

For the 10-year period from 1997 to 2007, the increase was an astounding 46

Arguably, there is no other traditionally male-dominated vocation that is
experiencing such a rapid increase in participation by women. In absolute
terms, the number of female principal farm operators stood at 305,000 in
2007. Over these 10 years the number of male farm operator actually fell by
5 percent, meaning that a woman now manages 1-in-7 farms.****

The above statistics tell only part of the story though, as the U.S. Census
data collection allows for one name to be put forward as the principle
operator. In the case of co-management with a husband, it is normally the
man's name that enters the statistics.****

In ****Canada****, where the question is asked differently to capture all
those engaged in the ownership and management of a farm, the number of
women as farm operators nearly doubles to 26 percent. Given similar social
and general farming dynamics in both countries, it is generally thought
that a comparable pattern of co-operators exists in the ****United States***

In the developing world the numbers are even higher, as women make up, on
average, over 40 percent
<>of the agriculture
labor force.

*A Perfect Storm*

Over the past generation or two, farming has become so much more of an
intellectual profession with much of the hard physical labor replaced by
mechanization. Perhaps farming has been a positive "perfect storm" for
women as they moved out into all walks of life. It is arguable that farming
as a profession may be unique in its natural evolution to nicely match
female skills.****

But female farmers aren't in clover, not yet.****

A closer look at the statistics show that female farmers face a "grass

Like grass that is mowed and thus unable to reach its growth potential,
women in agriculture are hindered by a shortage of government support
programs and loans through financial institutions. As a result, female
farmers, in many instances, cannot reach their growth potential as
producers of food.****

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Ct., estimates that 43,000 female farmers have
been denied more than $4.6 billion in farm loans and loan servicing from
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In an attempt to rectify this
situation, DeLauro introduced the 2009 Equity for Women Farmer's Act, which
unfortunately died before it became law.****

This lack of access to funding and government programs is reflected in the
2007 Census data, which had the average male-dominated farm sized at 410
acres with sales of $152,000 per year. By comparison, the average size of a
female-operated farm was 210 acres with sales of only $36,000 annually.****

It is telling that the states with the lowest number of female farmers, all
with less than 10 percent of the total, were **North Dakota**, **Nebraska**,
**Minnesota** and ****Iowa****. Farming in these states tends to be
dominated by capital-intensive grain and oilseed production with extensive
property holdings and costly machinery.

*Targeting the Inequalities*

The *U.S. Department of Agriculture* recognizes this inequality and has
established the Women Outreach
the Farm Service Agency.

Practicing female farmers have also been taking matters into their own
hands. Many, if not most, states have a female farmers' movement, such as
the *Women's Agricultural Network <>*, a
collaborative effort with the University of Vermont, or the
Michigan-based *Women's
Agricultural Community* <>*. *Not
only is the movement concerned with food production, but such factors as
conservation, sustainability and community are also top issues.****

However, the fundamental underlying feature of this movement is to produce
food and if you pick apart the agricultural statistics it's easy to argue
that women are directly responsible for more than 10 percent of the
nation's food.****

Compared to the overall picture this may not seem impressive, but look
again. Women's 10 percent stake in food production isn't that much less
than the total output of corporate or factory farms.****

For all their capital-intensity, these corporate farms account for only 15
percent of total ****U.S.**** food output.****

That means the gap between female farmers and industry giants is only about
5 percentage points and could be narrowing. Between 1997 and 2007 the
number of corporate farms grew by only 1.6 percent per year, while
female-operated outfits grew at nearly triple this annual pace (4.6

It is therefore conceivable that with increased access to government
programs and finance, female farmers could someday very soon be producing
more food for the nation than all the factory farms out there.****

Bottom line: Without much fanfare, women are making an increasingly
significant impact on U.S agriculture****

To contact the list administrator, or to leave the list, send an email to:
wunrn_listserve-request at Thank you.

Radha Paudel
*Action Works Nepa*l
email: rpaudel456 at
          actionworksnepal.awon10 at
Skype: rpaudel456
Cell: 977-9849596298
*Your Any Contribution Always Makes Difference for
Let's Live Together-Miteri Gaun' Campgain*
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