women in farming

Early last month, March 8 to be exact, was International Women’s Day. Social media was flooded with pictures, quotes, stories, etc. I even saw a television commercial highlighting the letters S, H, and E in a HerSHEy’s candy bar wrapper. Over the years, it seems as if differences between men and women in the workplace and society in general have become less of an issue. But to still have a day dedicated to women and all that they do is meaningful.

A couple months ago I received a gift. It was a T-shirt with the words “Support Women in Agriculture” printed across the front. Of course, I had to make sure to wear it on International Women’s Day. As a woman dairy farmer, I follow a lot of advocates — or as we in the ag community call them “agvocates” — on social media. Some are women, some are men, others farm full time, some only farm as a hobby. Through the year they post their struggles and success in the agriculture industry.

Dispersed throughout the year I have seen women farmers mention a couple times that a sales associate has come to the farm and asked her where the farmer was, meaning the man at the farm. I forget all of the details now, but basically, she did a tremendous job of summing up the reality that women can be farmers, too, and be just as successful. With success, sometimes struggles do come along. Are there some things that maybe a woman farmer really can’t do or it’s unsafe for her to do? I’m sure there are, but this could be in any industry really. I know a lot of women farmers who make their livelihood on the farm while also juggling children, activities and other commitments and make it all work while giving their best to the ag industry.

As a woman dairy farmer, I have not encountered any belittlement, thankfully. Although I am the only woman working at the dairy and at our young stock facility, I am surrounded by men who support me, encourage me and help me to learn to be able to do most things. For this I am very appreciative. Going into the world of dairy farming right out of college full-time was somewhat intimidating at first.

I had been around dairy cows my whole life, but to be doing it day in and day out as a full-time job caring for 200-plus head of young stock and milk cows was truly a responsibility that came with many learning curves and teaching moments. I still have so much to learn in the industry, but to be surrounded by those willing to continue to teach me and help me is something I will never take for granted.

Overall, being a woman in the farming industry is a wonderful way of life. Each day throws me unique challenges and opportunities that allow me to continue to build my physical and mental strength. Farming is a demanding way of life, both physically and mentally, but the satisfaction from bringing a new calf into the world or watching the sunset after a full day’s work is truly rewarding. I wholeheartedly believe that women are capable of many things they set their minds to and need to put in equal effort as men counterparts if they want to be treated with the same respect and dignity. It is a challenging world out there today, but to show up and face new challenges every day is something that I will forever be proud of as a woman in the farming community.

Submitted by Julie Holler, a Trumbull County Farm Bureau member and board trustee.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.
Having opportunities to attend leadership institutes, advocate for rural Ohioans on the state and national level, facilitate young ag professionals events, and serve in a variety of leadership positions have helped my skills grow exponentially.
Sara Tallmadge's avatar
Sara Tallmadge

Ashland County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
I was gifted the great opportunity through an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Pathways grant to run a series of summer camps here. That really expanded my vision of what ‘grow, maintain, sustain and explain’ could actually be.
Jim Bruner's avatar
Jim Bruner

Mezzacello Urban Farms

Farming for Good
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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