Women of Agriculture

February 8, 2011 03:21 AM
Women of Agriculture

Women are just as important on farm operations as the men they work with. Their roles and responsibilities are not the same, but women are contributing to farming more than ever.

With its America’s Farmers Mom of the Year contest, Monsanto Company recognizes the many ways women contribute to their families, farm operations and communities.

The 2010 Southeast Region winner Erika Forsbach and her husband moved from Germany to the U.S. in 1983, when commodity prices were low and interest rates and land prices were high. They have a center-pivot row crop operation in Savannah, Tenn., as well as sunflower and sugar beet trials.

Southwest Region and national win-ner Carol Cowan of Watonga, Okla., earned a teaching degree at Oklahoma State University but chose to spend her career on the farm with her husband and children, growing wheat, soybeans and alfalfa and raising cattle.

Midwest Region winner Cheryl Day’s first job was at the family’s grain elevator. As a ninth-generation farmer, she now works with her husband both on and off their crop and livestock farm in Cerro Gordo, Ill.

Other contest winners were Caroline Luiz of Fort Jones, Calif. (Western Region) and Sue Roohr of Cookstown, N.J. (Northeast Region).

Together, these women represent vital roles in agriculture—they are farm moms who are active in their operations and doing their part to share agriculture’s story.

Great farm moms are first and foremost mothers tasked with ag education at the most basic level. "Children who grow up on a farm have a whole new realization of where things come from and are raised with a deeper sense of honesty and work ethic," Forsbach says. Her family is now transitioning to allow their oldest son and his wife to join the operation.

"Women have always been involved in agriculture, but they are more willing to get involved in productive roles," Cowan says. "All of our children [one son and three daughters] are proficient in all aspects of our farm, from working cattle to running the equipment. Our family is known as the one that has all the girls and mom running the combines to harvest wheat."

Speaking out about agriculture is a role shared by all three women. At www.agweb.com, Day blogs about her family, farm operation and opinions on ag issues. "We should wear agriculture on our sleeve—build that relationship with the community. Be the reliable source about agriculture," she says.

Cowan shared her story with industry and government leaders in Spain, Morocco and Washington, D.C., with the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program this past year.

"The time is here to promote agriculture," Forsbach says. "Politicians don’t know about agriculture. It is a big part of this nation’s economy, and we need to be the voice in that arena."

Enter Your Mom in the 2011 Contest

Monsanto and American Agri-Women are giving you the opportunity to honor your mom’s contributions with the 2011 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year contest. In 2010, more than 5,000 online votes helped determine Carol Cowan as the national winner.

To submit a nomination, go to www.AmericasFarmers.com after March 3, and complete the entry form. Winners in five farming regions will receive $5,000 each. The five regional winners will be posted on the America’s Farmers website, where voting by visitors to the site will determine one national winner who will receive an additional $2,500. The national winner will be announced around Mother’s Day (May 8).

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