May 8, 2015
Women in agriculture should be able to communicate effectively, be adept goal-setters and have strategic planning skills, according to more than 2,000 women who responded to an American Farm Bureau Federation survey earlier this year.
The women responding to the online informal survey were asked about the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture today.
"The survey results point to a need for a deeper dive into what leadership traits women in agriculture are interested in learning about in order to achieve their goals," said Sherry Saylor, chairwoman of the AFB Women's Leadership Committee.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden speaks at the 2015 Ag Outlook Forum in February. Harden has recently unveiled a program to help women in agriculture connect with each other. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
The survey also found that many women are comfortable advocating about agriculture, and most believe they have the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful.
Social media is the preferred avenue of advocating about agriculture among the women surveyed.
"Farm and ranch women continue to be seen as credible sources of information on the production of food, fiber and renewable fuels," Saylor said. "Working to develop connections with consumers and being transparent when responding to questions about how food is produced benefits all of us in agriculture."
Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed own or share ownership of a farm or ranch. One-third of women surveyed have not yet started a business but indicated they would like to do so in the future.
Respondents cited obtaining financial support, business plan development, and prioritizing/finding time to accomplish tasks as their most common business challenges.
The AFB Women's Leadership Committee sponsored the survey. All women who are farmers, ranchers, farm/ranch employees, employed in agricultural businesses, pursuing ag-related higher education or supportive of agriculture in other ways were invited to participate; Farm Bureau membership was not a requirement.
Responses were received from women in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
What are some of the other challenges, aspirations and leadership roles for women in agriculture? Follow along with Holly Spangler and friends as they discuss these topics and more on the Confessions of a Farm Wife podcast.
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