Panel Discusses The Growing Role Of Women In Agriculture

Jan 28, 2019

A panel of female farmers at the Indiana Young Farmer and Ag Professionals Conference Saturday addressed hurdles and opportunities women in the industry face in the years to come.

The most recent United States Department of Agriculture census, taken in 2012, shows women in Indiana represent only about a fourth of Hoosier farmers. Of that number, only 10 percent of farms in Indiana are principally operated by women – below the national average of 14 percent.

In front of a predominantly female audience at the weekend conference, Vanderburgh County farmer Joyce Kron says the traditional stereotypes of a woman’s role on the farm are long gone.

“Our role was we were the moms and the housewives, and women are breaking out of that and we are active participants,” she says.

Rochester farmer and graphic designer Kelly Whiteman Snipes says discussions like the panel give young women insight and build professional connections.

“Having the strength and the determination to break that role and stereotype is really hard, but when you see somebody else doing something that you want to do it makes it become more a reality,” says Whiteman Snipes. “Any of these ladies in this audience know that they can get a hold of us or pull on of us aside and we would be there to help them along the way. And so, I think it provides some new role model opportunities for young ladies wanting to get involved.”

Farmer and Vincennes University professor Susan Brocksmith says with technology and urban farming expanding, women will have more ways to have careers in agriculture.

“People getting used to, you know, the technologies, the ability to drive different the equipment being easier and less physical that women are getting out here and being able to do a lot more than we’ve ever had opportunities,” says Brocksmith.

Whiteman Snipes says one of her biggest challenges is balancing the demands from work and home.

“As a multi-tasker eventually you start to face kind of a burnout, so that’s just something I see across our industry and that I worry about,” she says. “Just finding different ways to teach women how to delegate and communicate and kind of stand up for what their needs are as they continue to get further involved.”

The Indiana Farm Bureau has a Women’s Leadership Committee that gives women in agriculture more leadership and networking opportunities.