More than 30% of U.S. farm operators are women. At Top Producer’s Executive Women in Agriculture event, three established women in agribusiness shared personal stories of their experiences.
Here’s some of the advice they provided.
Celeste Settrini is from Salinas, Calif. She is a fresh vegetable commodity broker and works on her family farm. She says a lot people ask her why she’s involved in agriculture. "My answer is because I love it. Agriculture is an extension of who I am."
She says she is blessed to be a woman in the agriculture industry because of all the support she receives. "Women are great cheerleaders for one another."
Settrini spends a lot of her time being an advocate for agriculture. "I may not be the best voice for agriculture, but you’re not going to find many people who love it more than I do."
Christine Hamilton farms and ranches in Kimball, S.D. Her family also runs a foundation to aide in competitiveness for rural communities. Hamilton says she has always had a deep connection to the land, which has motivated her to spend her life in agriculture.
Agriculture is not always an easy field for women, Hamilton says. "There’s a problem of being taken seriously, and our negotiating skills may not be as valued." But, she says, over time you can develop respect.
Her advice for young producers is to develop critical thinking skills and focus on being curious about new possibilities.
Pam Johnson is currently the first vice president for the National Corn Growers Association and will soon become the first-ever female NCGA president. She farms in Floyd, Iowa.
"There’s a price to pay for being a strong woman," she says. But that doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. She suggests waking up each day focused on meeting challenges, whether they are big or small. "Treat them as an opportunity and adventure, instead of something to be dreaded."
Johnson says life can be kind of isolated out on the farm. "It’s very important as life gets more and more demanding that you do have good mentors. Surround yourself with really strong and smart people," she says.
The Executive Women in Agriculture event is being held Dec. 1-2. You can follow news and coverage from the event by visiting Top Producer’s Executive Women in Agriculture site
. You can also follow it on Twitter under the hash tag #ewa11