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The Huntington County farmer was recently elected second vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau.

March 21, 2024

3 Min Read
Janis Highley, Indiana Farm Bureau Second Vice President, stands on the steps of a John Deere tractor
CONNECTED TO AG: While Janis Highley did not grow up on a farm, she has been surrounded by agriculture her entire life. Colleen Settle

by Colleen Settle

According to the latest Census of Agriculture, about one-third of farmers in Indiana are women. But being a woman in ag does not mean they only work on the farm.

One of those women is Janis Highley, Huntington County, who serves as Indiana Farm Bureau second vice president. Highley is on the board of directors and chairs the INFB Women’s Leadership Committee, which is dedicated to educating the public through programs and events. These activities provide women with a platform for leadership, political involvement and professional development.

“The WLC is committed to helping women realize their potential in the ag industry and take advantage of leadership opportunities,” Highley says. “We want to meet women wherever they may be in their leadership and advocacy journey.”

Surrounded by agriculture

While Highley didn’t grow up on a farm, she was raised around agriculture in Warren, Ind. Her grandparents were dairy farmers, and her mother worked for a local fertilizer company.

“My mother showed me that there was a place for women in the ag industry — it was just normal to me,” Highley says. “So, when I was in high school and college, I knew I wanted to be involved in ag too.”

After Highley got married and graduated from Huntington University with a degree in business management, she joined her husband’s family farm, where they grow corn and soybeans. They are fifth-generation farmers, along with their two sons, who are the sixth generation. Highley characterizes herself as a small farmer, as both she and her husband have always worked on and off the farm.

While Highley drove the grain cart on the farm, she also worked at the fertilizer plant in the spring and the grain elevator plant in the fall.

“I have always had an off-farm job in the agribusiness space and then been able to farm in the evenings and on weekends,” Highley says. “I’m proud to be able to balance those two things and do it successfully.”

Reaching new horizons

Once her kids were grown, Highley started at Strategic Grain Hedge as a grain analyst assistant. There, she helps farmers and agribusinesses protect their bottom line through grain sales and hedges on the Chicago Board of Trade.

That is also when Highley became more involved in the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and INFB, where she served at the county level as a public relations coordinator and then as District 4 education and outreach coordinator, representing members in Adams, Blackford, Grant, Howard, Huntington, Jay, Miami, Tipton, Wabash and Wells counties. In December, she was elected INFB second vice president.

“My passion is helping farmers,” Highley explains. “And this position gives me a platform to do that through advocating and educating about important issues within the industry.”

Highley wants other women to know that you don’t have to grow up on a farm or rural community to be a part of the ag world.

“Don’t get hung up on where you live or your gender,” Highley adds. “If you have the passion for ag, you can make connections in the community and open doors to new opportunities.”

Settle is public relations manager-brand for Indiana Farm Bureau Inc.

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