Women Farmers Have Bigger Role In Agriculture

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The average farmer is a 55 year old male.

However, Dana Markley of Philadelphia, a woman in her 20s, is anything but. 

"Male farmers are starting to retire. There's a void and a lot of us young female farmers are coming in and stepping in and taking their place,” she said.

Markley is part of a slowly growing trend.

Since the 80s, the number of female farm owners has increased from 5 percent to 14 percent today. 

But these women are still in the minority.

So Peggy Murray from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County decided to start a class called "Annie's Program for Farm Women" to bring these female farmers together.

"Women have different issues on the farm and they represent a different perspective. It’s also a chance for them for them to network, to get off the farm and to meet other women like themselves,"  said Murray.

"Being a woman in agriculture, you don't see a lot of other women. So, I thought maybe it would be something I’d be interested in, but I kind of  thought maybe it was just a bunch of farmer's wives getting together to chat," said Markley.

But it wasn't

"They're out there doing the same kind of things that I’m doing,” said Markley.

There's more to farming than just the physical aspect. 

A farm is a business, and that's where the classes helped the most.

"Have your insurance policies. Have your wills. Have all that lined up because as a farmer that's kind of the last thing on your mind,” said Markley.

For Markley and the rest of the women, the classes are over.

But the program had such a good response, Cooperative Extension is working to arrange another class for women later this year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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