Women in Ag: Time to Own the Title


by Grace Lyden

FARGO — Vanessa Kummer has been a farmer for almost 38 years, but only recently has she owned that title.

“I have always driven the tractor, or the combine, or whatever was necessary to do the work on the farm, but I always told people that I farmed with my husband, not that I was a farmer,” she told an audience of about 60 women Thursday morning. “And if I ever did say I was a farmer, I would be asked, ‘Well yeah, but what do you do?’ And nobody goes up to a man and says, ‘Yeah, but what do you do?’ if they say they’re a farmer.”

It’s a common experience among the roundtable of women in agriculture who spoke at the North Dakota State College of Science campus here Thursday.

“We remember those days when women in agriculture couldn’t even get credit, back in the ‘70s, and we like to think everything has gotten better, but we know that it’s not perfect,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who hosted the event with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden.

Women make up 30 percent of principal farm operators nationwide and 10 percent of principal farm operators in North Dakota — statistics that have to change, the officials said.

“You can’t have a strong economy and a strong farm economy if you neglect, as the old Chinese proverb says, half the sky,” Klobuchar said. “That means the women.”

Panelists and audience members shared stories of being the sole woman on farming boards or being pressured to prove themselves. But the tone of the event was more optimistic than frustrated.


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Source:  Dickinson Press



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