Top of Mind: Females in Farming

October 5, 2011 11:34 AM

Do women make better marketers than men? That’s a question I recently asked Mark Gold, a veteran market analyst with Top Third Ag Marketing. He says that during his career, he’s noticed women tend to be consistently better marketers because they take the emotion out. "Women sense when a marketing opportunity arises and pull the trigger," Gold says. "When women see $7 corn, they sell. They make a decision and move on."

Mandy Bryant is a woman with her finger on the marketing trigger. Bryant takes care of management and marketing decisions for 5,000-acre Long Vue Farms in Allensville, Ky.—and she has consistently captured profits during this volatile year. One of three daughters, she returned home to farm with her father after earning her master’s degree in agronomy. Today, she makes key business decisions for the farm, including analyzing costs per acre, managing employees, cash flow budgeting and tax planning, all while balancing life with her young son and husband, who farms separately in his own family farm operation.

Yet, at age 36 and heir to a successful farm business, Bryant struggles with the stress of high-stakes business management and must constantly prove to landlords and suppliers that she is not just "Daddy’s little girl." She wishes she knew more women in executive and farm management roles with whom she could talk, but in rural areas they are hard to find.

"There are no female farm managers to sit and drink coffee with at the diner on a rainy day … and if there were, they’d be home catching up on laundry," Bryant says. "I don’t have a group of women who know about the stress when the market drops or we have a crop failure."

Bryant might feel alone, but the reality is that more women are returning to the farm as managers. Of the 3.3 million U.S. farm operators, more than 30%—1 million—are women. In addition, 75% of women operators are full owners of their land, according to USDA. This trend is fueled by automated agriculture and a collapsing gender barrier for women. Read more about women in agriculture.

A Conference for Ag Women. To encourage and support women in management on the farm, Top Producer is offering the first-ever Executive Women in Agriculture conference in Chicago, Dec. 1–2. The goal of the conference is to teach women the business and marketing skills they need to run profitable operations and to provide a networking opportunity for like-minded women. I hope this event will be the catalyst for more daughters and sisters to consider coming home to the family farm and more farm owners to consider women as managers and heirs.

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