Women in production

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Increasingly, women involved in agriculture own and operate farms and ranches. Since 2013, the program has allowed more than a four hundred women from eight states and 70 Missouri counties (average 13-15 counties each year) to ask questions of female industry leaders as well as practice hands-on real-world situations under the supervision of female experts. The study counted 3.3 million farms in the nation, in 2007, and 30.2% (more than 1 million) were primarily owned by women. The number of female operators jumped 19% from 2002 to 2007, far outpacing the 7% growth in the number of total farmers. The study reported that the number of women-operated farms increased in all sales classes, suggesting that size does not matter when it comes to agricultural opportunity for women. In 2007, 5% of women-operated farms had sales of $100,000 or more. Most of these farms specialized in grains, poultry and eggs, beef cattle, or dairy. Overall, women operate one-fourth of the sheep and goat operations (25.1%), 19.1% of poultry and egg farms, 10.6% beef cattle farms, 8.9% pig farms, and 5.9% of the dairy farms.

In addition, women are increasingly playing larger roles in livestock production as nearly half of our country’s women-operated farms are specialized in livestock production. These women are more educated than their male counterparts with approximately 61% pursuing education beyond high school compared with only 47% of males. As well, younger women are entering the farming industry faster than older women are retiring. Women have a higher land ownership rate than their male counterparts, with 85% of women owning all of their farm land, compared to 66% of their male counterparts.

The curriculum was developed to focus on empowering female livestock producers and provide hands-on teaching principles. Since 2013, the program has allowed more than 400 women from eight states and 70 Missouri counties (average 13-15 counties each year) to ask questions of female industry leaders as well as practice hands-on real-world situations under the supervision of female experts.

An extensive program exit survey was performed to determine what knowledge was gained and future potential of on-farm behavior change. Feedback such as “women offer a unique perspective on agriculture and through programs like this conference we can learn and share new ideas on raising livestock that can mutually benefit”, “wealth of information”, “safe, non-stressful environment to understand and practice hands-on techniques”, “well worth the time”, “best women in ag conference I have ever attended”, and “we can come together to impact our industry” were reported through evaluations.

A Pearls of Production Facebook page (904 followers) has been developed to provide timely updates and information. According to participant evaluations since 2013, 94.8% of respondents agreed the conference met their expectations and 98.4% agreed the conference format created a positive learning environment. Because of the Pearls of Production conferences, 297 women have changed behaviors or applied practices such as:

  • 25% of participants plan to buy and use chain saws or safety equipment after attending the 2017 shop and chainsaw safety session.
  • More women are comfortable DNA testing their livestock because of the 2019 beef breakout session and evaluations stated they could not get that experience anywhere else.
  • There is an increased awareness of ergonomic tools and four out of five women plan to use proper sized vibration resistant gloves because of the 2018 shop session.
  • 60% of the women responding to follow-up survey questions state they regularly use their grazing sticks obtained at the 2013-2017 forage breakout sessions.
  • 90% of the women have more confidence driving and hitching up tractors taught in the 2018 shop session.
  • More than 50% of the women plan to adapt their animal corral systems for working their cattle, sheep, and goats because of the 2019 small ruminant and beef sessions.
Remote video URL
Watch Harnessing the Power of Missouri Agriculture - Pearls of Production on YouTube.

Harnessing the Power of Missouri Ag.

Remote video URL
Watch The Many Hats of Women in Agriculture on YouTube.

The Many Hats of Women in Agriculture

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