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.