Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Record number of women lead state agriculture agencies, just as more women are owning and running farms

A record 13 women have been elected or appointed to lead state agriculture departments, a number that could rise since five states still have their top ag jobs open, Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico's Morning Agriculture.

Women already led the departments in California, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Utah and Virginia before 2019, and since the beginning of 2019, have taken the job in Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota,

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried told Politico, "We’re breaking down glass ceilings . . . giving them opportunities to not just work the farm but step up in trade associations, step up in leadership." And Karen Ross, who has served as secretary of California's Department of Food and Agriculture since 2011, told Politico that she has seen an increase in women in ag leadership roles since she took office.

The rise in women in state-government agricultural leadership mirrors an overall increase in women in farming; more women are running cattle ranches and family farms. Women make up 31 percent of U.S. farmers and ranchers, run 14 percent of all U.S. farms and ranches, and own 30 percent of U.S. farmland. That number could increase, since 44 percent of all Future Farmers of America students are girls, according to Jeanne Bernick, a principal and market strategist with ag firm KCoe Isom.

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