Surge in Female Farmers

Despite widespread misconceptions about the farm community and despite systematic discrimination, women farmers are on the rise, quickly becoming one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the farm sector.
The iconic image of the American farmer is almost universally male. February’s “God Made a Farmer” commercial (which debuted at the Super Bowl) showed only male farmers. Countless other depictions of farmers in popular culture also focus almost solely on men.
“That image of (a man) is so imbedded in all of us that it’s hard to imagine that women are part of farming when they show an ad like that. On one hand it’s a really nice tribute to agriculture, but on the other hand they’re missing more than half the population that’s involved with it,” said Denise O’Brien, a 40-year Iowa farm veteran.
This popular stereotype has made it difficult for women to gain full access to farm supports and farm subsidies. Like many other minority farmers, women have successfully sued the US Department of Agriculture, arguing that they have been denied access to farm loans due to their gender.
Despite these stereotypes, women are a rapidly growing segment of the farm sector. According to the last agricultural census, female farmers grew by about 19 percent, significantly higher than the 7 percent overall growth of the farm population.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer