In response to the “Big Ag dominated by men, despite the feminine new face” article that was posted on stltoday.com this week.
Hello, my name is Sara Ross and I am a CommonGround Volunteer. Our goal is to reach out to the urban consumer and provide them with information on what it is like on our family farms and how we raise our crops and livestock. We are reaching consumers through many different ways, not just grocery stores, but we do feel that the grocery store location is important because we will be talking to the grocery buyer in the family directly. We will also be holding other events with different groups in our local areas and we use social media as a way to inform the readers what it’s like day-to-day on our farms. Most of us have blogs and use Facebook and Twitter to talk about daily happenings on our farm.
From the men and women that we have talked to, most are very interested in learning about where their food comes from and how it is raised. We eat the same food as the consumer in grocery store, so we want to raise a healthy crop for their families and ours!
A study you found says that out of the five largest commodity groups’ boards, there are only three women. Also in your article you state that the number of farms that are being run by women has risen about 30% over the past decade and women now head 14% of the nation’s 2.2 million farms. Those statistics may be correct, but if you visit a real family farm (with 98% of all farms in America being considered family farms according to the USDA) then you will more than likely see a husband and wife team farming together.
I’d like to let you know what it’s like on our farm. My husband is the sole farmer with some help from myself and his family occasionally and also part-time help during the busy times of the year (planting and harvest). He is also President-Elect for the Iowa Corn Growers Association and is often gone to board meetings. While he is away to meetings I usually do the chores, our part-time help comes if need be and his family is just a phone call away if I need help with anything. There are always daily chores to be done and in times like now, with the freezing cold temperatures we have to make sure that the cattle’s waterers aren’t frozen over. I also manage the farm books while having a full time job and raising our son. Even though the five largest commodity groups are run mostly by men, there are hard working women back home keeping the farms running.
In your article you referred to “Big Ag”, what is “Big Ag” exactly? We hear this term all the time, but what is it actually referring to? It seems like all farmers get lumped into this “Big Ag” when actually, agriculture consists of more than 2 million independent (usually family) businesses. Not many of us think of ourselves as “big” anything. We’re just working to provide food for you and people around the world. We take a lot of flack but that just makes us want to work harder to earn a living and provide the most abundant, healthiest crops possible.