Friday, February 27, 2009

Female farm owners in Iowa push conservation

"Of Iowa’s 30.7 million farm acres, 47 percent are owned by women," reports Mark Clayton of The Christian Science Monitor. "But a growing share – 20 percent – is now owned by single women, many of them older, with a far different take on farming than their male counterparts. About three-quarters of the land owned by single women is rented out to mostly male tenant farmers." Dozens are turning out for a series of meetings in Iowa on “Women Caring for the Land” to learn more about farmland conservation and how to deal with their male tenant farmers.

According to more than 800 Iowa farm women who recorded their views on farmland ownership in 2006, conservation is their biggest priority. Women have a “clear and strong consciousness about land-health issues and respect nature intrinsically – not for its productive value, but because it sustains life,” the report found. From left: Laura Krouse, Linda Halsey, Carolyn Palmer, and Margaret Doermann of Iowa want their tenant farmers to care for the land more. (Photo by Mark Clayton)

Conservation does not seem to be as high a priority for Iowa's male farmers. Denise O’Brien, a full-time farmer who nearly became Iowa’s first female secretary of agriculture in 2006 said, “I hope women will feel empowered to say: ‘I want a waterway, buffer strips, and trees on my farm.’ When women say that today, men pretty much roll their eyes and think that they don’t know enough to make these decisions.” (Read more)

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