Find Your Networking Event

Life on the farm can be very exciting, very diverse…and very lonely. Especially for executive women in farm businesses who are running multi-million dollar operations in rural locations. It’s hard to find like-minded peers when you are 10 miles off the highway!

Luckily, more great networking opportunities are popping up for women in agriculture. One of my favorites (yes, I’m biased) is the annual Executive Women in Agriculture event in Chicago, Dec. 3-4 at the Palmer House Hilton.

Now in its fifth year, Top Producer’s Executive Women in Agriculture Conference continues to feature dynamic keynote speakers and educational breakout sessions, as well as an evening networking reception. Topics at this year’s conference include macro forces affecting ag markets, succession planning advice, time management tips, business diversification strategies, consumer trends and a panel discussion with women farm owners, managers and decision-makers.

“About 30% of U.S. farm operators are women, according to USDA,” said Top Producer Editor Sara Schafer. “These women are primary operators, human resource managers, record-keepers and support staff for cutting-edge operations. The Executive Women in Agriculture conference comes at a monumental time as we transition a large percentage of farms to the next generation and as more women are working in agriculture.”

A few speaker highlights for 2015:

Beth Ford is executive vice president and chief supply chain and operations officer for Land O’Lakes, Inc. She is responsible for taking products and services from insight to customer delivery in the U.S. and globally. She’ll discuss the integral role women have in agriculture and what’s ahead for the industry.

Chris Soules co-owns the family’s third generation farming operation, Soules Farms, in partnership with parents in Arlington, Iowa. He is also a television star from The Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars and Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition.

Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, including “I Know How She Does It”, “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast”, and “168 Hours”. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other publications. She will provide key insight on how to balance farm, family and other responsibilities.

More information can be found at

Who Runs the Farm (World)?


Ask a consumer at the grocery store today what the average American farmer looks like, and the typical answer is: a white man in his 50s.

While it’s true the average age of the American farmer is 58, according to USDA, dig more deeply and you’ll find the number of women farmers has tripled since the 1970s. The roles women play on farms is changing, too. More women are full partners and owners in farming operations, and an increasing number of women are becoming key decision makers when it comes to purchases, such as seed and equipment.

That’s because more women are running the numbers behind the farm business – they provide the bookkeeping, accounting and CFO-type services on farm operations. It takes brains, more than brawn, to run a modern farm. Today, women are coming home to manage their family farm businesses after earning MBAs or following years of experience in the C Suite.

I have spent more than two decades traveling the countryside and visiting farms as a business journalist and agricultural consultant. I love the business of agriculture, and I love farmers. With 9 billion mouths to feed on this planet by 2050, we need farmers of every size, shape and gender. I am truly excited about the number of women who are coming back to the farm, who are actively seeking to operate businesses in rural America, and who want to own agricultural land. Today, 30% of farm ground is owned by women, according to USDA Census data.

Beyoncé asks in her female tribute song “Who Run the World (Girls)”. Maybe. At least I am seeing more women running their world in rural America.