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Women Are Out-Earning Men in the Business of Farming

Brian German Agri-Business

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women are out-earning men as farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers.  The data from 2017 shows that the weekly median salary for men was $963, whereas women were earning a little more than $1,100.  The agriculture industry is just one of only 10 areas in which women are out-earning men in similar positions.

Women Are Out-Earning MenAccording to the latest statistical data available from the USDA Census of Agriculture, women comprised 30 percent of American farm operators in 2012.  In California, the percentage of female farmers was a bit higher at 33 percent, with a total of 40,072 women working on more than 9.5 million acres of farmland.  Women working in agriculture had an economic impact of $1.6 billion in California.  While the number of female principal operators declined six percent between 2007 and 2012, the overall number of farms and principal operators also declined four percent during the same period.

Author of Soil Sisters, a Toolkit for Women Farmers, Lisa Kivirist, spoke at the National Farmers Union’s 2018 Women’s Conference on the creation of multiple income sources related to farming.  “We like to have other businesses off the farm,” Kivirist told CNBC, referencing the diversification of farming operations to include things such as bed and breakfasts and small crafts.  “Not putting all our eggs — literally — in one basket.”  Kivirist also noted that growth in the organic, and small-farm sectors have helped to increase the prominence of women in agriculture.

The increased visibility and presence of women in the agriculture industry over the last 20 years is due in part to multiple advocacy groups and other industry organizations.  Associations such as American Agri-Women, the National Women in Agriculture Association and the Women, Food and Agriculture Network work to promote the increased presence of women in agriculture and cultivate more leadership opportunities for women in the industry.

About the Author

Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West