More women involved in agriculture


Tony Nye - OSU Extension



I want to first off pay tribute to our veteran men and women who have served and sacrificed so much for our freedom. I think this quote from an unknown person says it best for me, “We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.”

Thank you.

Anyone in agriculture knows it is becoming more complex every year with more technology, changing genetics, higher costs of production, world-wide market impacts, environmental shifts, labor issues, and the list goes on and on. It is also an exciting time for agriculture for many of the same reasons.

Another part of agriculture that has been changing is the number of women becoming more directly involved with agriculture.

Women fill many roles in agriculture. They are farmers and farm workers, ranchers, agricultural researchers, and educators.

And they contribute to local food systems, direct farm marketing, farm business planning/management, and more.

In 1978, only 5 percent of U.S. farms had female principal operators. By 2007, 14 percent of all U.S. farms had female principal operators.

In the last Census report in 2017, the United States had 1.2 million female producers, accounting for 36 percent of the country’s 3.4 million producers. Female producers are slightly younger, more likely to be a beginning farmer, and more likely to live on the farm they operate than male producers.

More than half of all farms, 56 percent, had a female producer. These female-operated farms accounted for 38 percent of U.S. agriculture sales and 43 percent of U.S. farmland.

In 2017, the total number of U.S. producers was 3.4 million, a 6.9 percent increase over 2012, as more farms reported multiple individuals involved in farm decision making.

In 2017, the majority of farms, 54 percent, reported more than one person as producer. In 2012, the majority, 56 percent of farms, identified only one producer.

While the number of male producers declined 1.7 percent, the number of female producers increased nearly 27 percent, underscoring the effectiveness of the attempt to better represent all people involved in farm decision making.

Here in Ohio, female farm operators make up more than 28% of agricultural producers and are involved in the production and sale of various commodity and specialty crops.

Ohio has 77,805 farms and 5.5 out of every 10 of those farms have at least one female producer; 25,609 farms have at least one female principal producer.

• Women operate, solely or in partnership, more than 40,000 Ohio farms and 5.3 million acres. 3.1 million acres are managed by a female principal producer.

• Women are principal producers on 26 percent of Ohio farms. This equates to 26,569 women. The percentage more than doubled over the census 5-year period.

• There are 128,686 individuals operating Ohio farms and 34 percent of Ohio farm operators are women which equals 43,256 individuals. Nationally, 36 % of US farmers are women and 56% of all farms have at least one female decision maker.

• Census data on involvement in decision making shows that Ohio female farm operators are most actively engaged in day-to-day decisions, record keeping and financial management of the operation.

• Additionally, 45% of Ohio female operators are also involved in livestock decision-making with 49% making decisions regarding estate or succession planning.

Out of requests from past participants of our Annie’s Women in Ag programs I have set up three programs for women in agriculture enthusiasts to participate in.

Three programs

• Wednesday, November 30 — Peggy Hall, OSU Ag Law specialist, will lead an open discussion addressing ag law concerns.

• Wednesday January 11, 2023 — Robert Moore, OSU Ag Law specialist, will address Succession Planning for the family farm.

• Tuesday January 17, 2023 — Kaitlin Roush, Clinton Co. FSA Director will lead a Farm Program update and discussion.

Each of these three programs are scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. and will be held at the Clinton County Extension Community room, 111 S. Nelson Ave., Wilmington.

These events are free to those attending. This program is designed for engaging discussion and learning. Desserts and refreshments will be provided each evening.

To ensure we have plenty of desserts and handouts, we ask that everyone RSVP by calling our office at (937) 382-0901 and let us know what nights you will be attending. RSVP is needed two days ahead of each program.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

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Tony Nye

OSU Extension