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From the earliest days of American agriculture, women have been a cornerstone of everyday farm life. Because of recent shifts toward globalization of markets and an increased focus on operational efficiency, production and marketing; women are now more engaged than ever in the core business of agriculture as farm operators and strategic decision-makers.
According to the USDA, over the past 30 years the number of women-operated farms has more than doubled. In 2007, women operated 14 percent of all U.S. farms, up from 5 percent in 1978 with women-operated farms increasing in all sales classes, including farms with annual sales of $1 million or more.
And this is not just a national trend. More women have been emerging as movers and shakers right here in Lee County; taking important leadership roles in local agriculture by running their family farms, helping shape public policy, owning and operating small businesses and leading numerous agricultural organizations. Women play a prominent role across Lee County’s agricultural industry, and their numbers along with their influence continue to grow.
This series will present a mosaic of stories that illustrate what women contribute to the business of farming, the diverse roles they fill and the balancing act required when managing a complex blend of responsibilities. It will also reflect on the impact agriculture has had on each woman’s life…shaping, molding, and influencing the people they are today and the path they have chosen.
Many of the individuals profiled in this series are breaking stereotypes and illuminating the role of women in agriculture as a whole, strengthening and guiding the next generation of agricultural and community leaders. New ideas and perspectives are the precursors of growth and innovation in an industry that faces emerging challenges as well as countless opportunities. Clearly, these women demonstrate they are well suited to play a leading role in reshaping the landscape of agriculture and agribusiness across Lee County.