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The Evolving Role of Women in Agriculture

November 29, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

Women are taking larger and more defined roles on farms and in agribusiness.

More and more women are becoming key leaders in the agricultural industry. Of the 3.3 million U.S. farm operators, more than 30%—1 million—are women, according to census data.

Women operators have increased 20% from 2002, and more than 75% of women operators are full owners of their land. Globally, 70% of all farmers are women.

So, why and how are women changing the business of agriculture?

Danny Klinefelter, Texas A&M economist and director of TEPAP, says there are many reasons women are not only becoming more involved, but also becoming successful.

One key reason is there is now an increased emphasis is being put on business management in farming, relative to production management. Additionally, he says the return to management and technical skills have increased relative to physical skills.

Klinefelter says women are well-suited for these roles because many women have had training in these areas. Some of the positions women are holding in agriculture include:

  • CEO
  • General manager
  • Public relations
  • Marketing
  • Purchasing
  • Human resources
  • Risk management
  • Information technology
  • Sales
  • Landlord relations manager
  • Data analysis

 

Klinefelter says a lot of these roles are less driven by the production cycles, which can provide a competitive advantage. He says that what typically separates the very best farm managers from the good managers is timing. So having people that can stay focused on marketing or political issues year-round provides additional opportunities.

"We can’t have people following the production cycle all the time," he says. Farmers need to be able to make management decisions at any time a good opportunity presents itself. "Strategic management is about anticipating, adapting to, driving and capitalizing on change."

 

For More Information
See full coverage of Top Producer's 2012 Executive Women in Agriculture event. Follow the event on Twitter: #EWA12.


 

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