If you didn’t catch last week’s Isthmus cover story, you missed a good one. As Marcelle Richards describes in her intro about the role (and rise in prominence) of women in agriculture,
The number of women in farming is rising, in real numbers and also because farmers’ wives are more often getting credit for calling their work what it is. There’s also been a change in the way census data are collected.
According to the USDA Census on Agriculture’s most recent report in 2007, Wisconsin had 9,176 women principal operators, up 58% since 10 years prior. Nationally, over 300,000 women principal operators were reported in 2007, up 24%, accounting for 14% of the total.
It wasn’t until 2002 that the census counted all operators on a farm and collected more detailed demographic information for up to three operators, which now better accounts for women.
Why should gender matter? Both men and women have thumbs and a pre-frontal cortex. Both men and women can operate farm machinery. And plenty of women can handle the physical demands of the job.
The piece goes on to profile a number of area farmers, including Tricia Bross (Luna Circle Farm); Claire Strader (Troy Community Farm), who I posted about previously; Anne Topham (Fantôme Farm); and Shirley Young and Karol Niemann (Young Earth Farm). It’s a really terrific read that left me grinning from ear to ear, so check it out.