FarmHer and Women Farmers

An interesting article in Quartz highlights an interesting new project, FarmHer, which is a photography project aiming to show the day-to-day experience of women farmers.  The website is amazing and documents the varied farming experience(s) of women as farmers, landowners, mentors, and more.

But the article also included information that I found surprising.  From the article:

In 2012, there were 2% fewer female farmers than in 2007. Plus, while 14% of the country’s 2.1 million farms had women as principal operators, that accounted for only 6.9% of American farmland, and sales by women made up only 3.3% of total US agricultural sales.

Projects like FarmHer certainly help increase the visibility of women farmers, operators, and those involved in agriculture.  But programs like this one are also available to assist women farmers, be it through offering workshops on business planning, one-on-one assistance on available resources and programs to start or expand an operation, advice on governing rules and regulations, or even providing legal assistance in creating and executing the necessary paperwork to establish a business entity.  If it is a legal question from a beginning farmer, we will assist if at all possible.

We’re always happy to help — our goal and mission is to assist any and all beginning farmers in Nebraska, South Dakota, and the greater Plains.

 

Aspiring Women Farmers — Mentorships Available!

Our friend and partner, the Center for Rural Affairs, currently has a wonderful opportunity for aspiring women farmers.  If you are an aspiring woman farmer, and are looking for a mentor or vice versa, the Center is your matchmaker.

The Center is working with the Women, Food and Agriculture Network in Iowa to launch learning and mentorship opportunities for women who want hands-on experience and advice about farming and ranching.  The Center is interested in hearing from both aspiring women farmers and established women farmers.  Contact Virginia Meyer at the Center for Rural Affairs; you can reach her at virginiam@cfra.org or 402-687-2103 extension 1014.

Women Landowners

This week, I’ve attended a workshop sponsored by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Women in Ag and scheduled another workshop for women landowners in south-central Nebraska in mid-August (more info in a future post!).  The workshops have got me thinking about women landowners, the possibility for beginning farmers to rent from a woman landlord, and if there are any differences between renting from a woman or renting from a man.  These workshops, and previous workshops I’ve attended, demonstrate what the numbers bear out:  there is a growing segment of landowners in farming and ranching and it is women.

Women landowners are a growing group and control significant amounts of farmland.  In Iowa, women wholly or partially own 51% of the farmland.  Some of the women landowners are non-operators, meaning have not operated the farming operation.  The converse is that some women landowners are operators.  What does this mean for the beginning farmer and for women landlords?

For the beginning farmer, it means that your landlord may be a woman.  (And that’s okay!)  A woman who likely spent years helping her father and/or husband with their farming operation.  A woman who may, it turns out, be a source of immense knowledge of the land, its production history, and farming or ranching in general.  A woman who may need a successor.  Or a woman who is interested in helping beginning farmers get up off the ground.

For the women landlords, it means that you may have a younger person who may some new ideas they want to try.  Maybe the operator wants to expand into value-added agriculture or specialty crops.  A person who is invested in the idea of farming or ranching and wants to succeed.  A person who may need and want a mentor.

Moreover, there is some evidence that women landowners have different goals and values with regards to use of the land than men.  Knowing the goals and values of both the farmer and landowner is critical to creating a long-lasting, stable relationship.  So beginners, ask what goals and values the landowner has!  Landowners, don’t let someone farm your land without an understanding of your goals and values.

As with all landlord/tenant relationships, the key is communication.  Women landlords should communicate what goals and values they have to the land.  Tenants should decide if they want to work towards those same goals and if they can operate a successful business with the lease terms offered.

Want someone to further discuss the above issues with?  Contact us!  We’re happy to help if you are a beginning farmer or a landowner looking to create a business plan and/or succession plan.