By Amelia Kent
Women’s History Month annually highlights the contributions of women to the world and agriculture is no exception.
Did you know over 3,500 of Louisiana’s farms have women in both ownership and management roles? I didn’t know that until I read a statistic from the Louisiana Women in Agriculture Conference, which is being held this year on March 21.
For me, watching women working in various roles within agriculture has always been normal. My grandmother is a renowned plant propagator who owns a wholesale nursery. My mother worked alongside my father on the ranch they founded, owned and ran together, and now helps run my grandmother’s nursery. In my childhood, I remember countless ranch women running their own ranches or working alongside their husbands.
None of those examples are lost in the past – it is very much so still true today! In fact, women are starting to be recognized more for their contributions and we’re seeing more women holding leadership positions in agricultural organizations. Mrs. Linda Zaunbrecher has been inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction this month– only the second woman to do so. Last year, my grandmother was the first.
Several years ago, I attended a communications training program hosted by the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and at the very beginning asked why it was a women’s communications bootcamp and not open to men as well. My curiosity was quickly satisfied when one of the trainers answered that there is empirical data showing women tend to be more effective communicators than men. To say I was surprised is an understatement.
When that same trainer started explaining some of the reasons why, it made complete sense. Oftentimes, women buy the groceries, drop kids off and pick them back up from school, and tend to many of the household decisions. Regardless of location and career differences, those are some starting points to common ground. As advocacy is becoming more of a buzzword, social media controls much of our marketing and too much of our lives, and blogs are as popular as ever, women have really made a name for themselves in the world of communication and advocacy. The AFBF GOTeam is comprised of a 60+ percent women.
These roles are not limited to effective communication. I can think of numerous examples of farms and ranches that are solely owned by women or owned by a married couple but managed by the wife or even owned by a couple who shares management roles.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been challenged with addressing my farm chores while simultaneously planning packing our entire house to finally fix the floors after flooding in 2016. To say my stress level has been high is quite an understatement, but it’s something I know I can manage with the role models I’ve had from my past.
I wonder if women are gaining more roles, or if it’s becoming more visible and socially acceptable for women to have these roles? What are roles held by women in your farming operations?
Amelia Kent and her husband, Russell, raise beef cattle and hay in East Feliciana Parish. Amelia is a past chair of Louisiana’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, is currently a member of the - Partners in Advocacy Leadership program with AFBF, and serves on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Find them on Facebook at Kent Farms; or on Instagram and Twitter @kentfarms_la.