Over the past few decades, women have become more involved in agriculture, buying their own farmland and starting their own farms. It is estimated that within the next 20 years, 371 million acres of land will change hands as farmers retire or leave their land to the next generation, with the vast majority turned over to women ownership. If this is a true estimation, then the next 20 years will add to the nearly 300 million acres of U.S. land currently owned and farmed by women.
Research shows that in some areas, women actually get the job done better than men do. Women farmers and landowners have a strong conversation and stewardship ethic, meaning that women are more likely to talk about any farming problems or struggles, and reach out for help.
American Farm Trust’s Women for the Land initiative address the difficulties that women in particular face in accessing conservation programs and resources. The initiative consists of three main components: research in women landowners and their barriers, engaging women in conservation, and technical assistance and policy reforms.
Very little research exists on Americans who own or lease farming and agricultural land, particularly the women. AFT uses their Women for the Land program to fill this gap in research by developing and testing a new landowner survey, focusing on the short- and long-terms goals of women farmers across the country. This survey looks to address the unique hurdles that women face owning and farming their own land.
In 2012, Women for the Land began using “learning circles” for women landowners in the Mid-West and Mid-Atlantic regions. These events strive to bring women landowners together to create a network of knowledge and support, as well as get these landowners in touch with female conservation professionals. AFT keeps the full and updated schedule on their website for women to register for upcoming events in their area.
The Farmland Information Center (FIC) provides information and technical assistance to women landowners, customized specifically for them to help them get ahead in a farming industry typically dominated by men. The FIC also provides a website and toll-free hotline for women to get access to knowledge on conservation programs, farmland protection options, succession plans, and more.
AFT and Women for the Land work to ensure that women have a prominent place in the world of farming and agriculture, and continue to do so long into the future.
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