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This dairy farmer kicked the ‘farmwife’ label

Learn more about an Indiana dairy farmer — and a woman in agriculture — during National Dairy Month.

June 14, 2024

2 Min Read
Sam Schwoeppe, Huntingburg, Indiana
A FARMER: Sam Schwoeppe says farmwives should just be called farmers. She has balanced farming with a variety of leadership roles off the farm. Courtesy of Sam Schwoeppe

by Colleen Settle

Women in agriculture fill a wide variety of roles and leadership positions. One of those roles is often “farmwife,” but Sam Schwoeppe says it’s time to consider a different title: farmer.

Schwoeppe has been around dairy farming all her life. She grew up on a dairy farm in Warrick County, Ind., before marrying her husband and working on his family farm, Schwoeppe Dairy, in Huntingburg, Ind. Schwoeppe and her husband, Darren, are fourth-generation dairy farmers, and their two sons, Wyatt and Ethan, who now co-own and operate the dairy as well, are the fifth generation.

“Dairy has brought so many exciting things to my life,” Schwoeppe explains. “I love cows, and I’m appreciative for everything they give us — milk is nature’s perfect food.”

After Schwoeppe’s sons were grown, she went back to school and got her graduate degree at Western Kentucky University. Off the farm, she is the director of business partnerships at Fresh Connect Central, an agrifood distributor operated by Gleaners primarily serving the national Feeding America network.

The organization’s mission is to help all food banks and similar food distribution partners access fresh produce, protein and dairy at the lowest possible prices. Prior to that, Schwoeppe worked at Feeding America as senior manager of agrifood engagement.

A leader off the farm

Schwoeppe is also a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau 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.

She represents District 9, which includes Crawford, Dubois, Gibson, Orange, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Warrick and Vanderburgh counties. Being a district education and outreach coordinator has given her the opportunity to introduce agriculture to the next generation.

“Seeing kids ask questions and learn where their food comes from is exciting,” Schwoeppe says. “You never know who you will inspire with just one interaction and where that inspiration may lead.”

Schwoeppe also serves on the INFB livestock and animal care policy advisory group. Additionally, she serves on the board of directors of Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. as the treasurer.

Ditch ‘farmwife’ label

When it comes to misconceptions about being a female farmer, Schwoeppe notes that the term “farmwife” should simply be replaced with “farmer.”

“Women may not have the loudest role on the farm, but they are often the glue that holds everything together,” Schwoeppe adds. “They get everyone fed, pay the bills, run equipment, care for livestock, milk the cows, fill the gaps, and keep everything organized.

“You don’t ever hear the term ‘farm husband.’ It’s the family that is married to the farm, especially when it comes to livestock. As farmers, we depend on livestock and livestock depend on us. It’s a symbiotic relationship — the family depends on the farm and the farm depends on the family.”

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

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