Friday, February 25, 2011

Women lacking on farm-group boards despite PR campaigns, environmental group notes

Some recent agriculture public-relations campaigns have been centered on female farmers, but analysis from the Environmental Working Group suggests those campaigns offer a distorted view of women's role in agriculture, at least in its leadership. Women account for just 1.3 percent of the executive boards of the five largest industry groups representing corn, soybean, wheat, cotton and rice growers, EWG reports. Two of the groups, the National Cotton Council and the U.S. Rice Producers Association, have no women on their boards. The National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association and the National Association of Wheat Growers each have one woman.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports women now operate 14 percent of U.S. farms, but the type of farming those women practice is of particular interest, EWG writes. A study from the Organic Farming Research Foundation reveals 22 percent of organic farmers are women, and female farmers are "far more likely to allocate land to vegetables and herbs" than male farmers. On average female farmers devote 28 percent of acreage to field crops, compared to 44 percent of acreage for males. The average female-operated farm is 40 acres, while the average male-operated farm is 149 acres. (Read more)

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