FACT SHEET on the Growth of Women in Sustainable Agriculture
Building on our nation’s long-standing agricultural roots, women today are plowing new farming and food-based business ventures, blending entrepreneurial start-ups with their passion for bringing healthy, fresh, local food to our communities. From launching new farms to cheese-making operations to pizza businesses, this growing trend of women “ecopreneurs” creatively build successful businesses around their passion for conservation, community and leaving this world a better place. Some of these women traded urban roots for the rural lifestyle while others are recrafting the family farm lifestyle they grew up with. Yet they all share a passion to help educate others about the importance of healthy land, food and community connections.
Increase of women farmers nationally:
• According to the last USDA Census of Agriculture, while the total number of farms has been declining for many years, the number owned and operated by women increased by nearly 30%. Most of these women are new entrants to farming, operate small acreage but own their land and are more likely to raise vegetables, fruits and now, flowers and herbs and other specialty crops.
Women launching more businesses:
• According to the Center of Women’s Business Research, for the past two decades, businesses owned by women continue to grow at two times the rate of all companies (42% versus 24%).
Women-owned farms in Wisconsin increased 58% over a ten year period:
5,793 in 1997
7,353 in 2002
9.176 in 2007 (Source: USDA Census of Agriculture)
Wisconsin women operate smaller, diversified farms and dairy operations:
According to a 2010 University of Wisconsin study, most women (72%) who operate non-dairy farms in Wisconsin farm fewer than 100 acres. These women typically raise vegetables, poultry and eggs, beef and tree fruit. The average woman dairy farmer’s farm size is 87 cows and owns 188 acres and use conservation management planning on their land.
Wisconsin women work cooperatively:
The MOSES Rural Women’s Project “In Her Boots” workshops strategically build on 2010 University of Wisconsin research assessing where women farmers go for information. The results of this study indicate that women primarily reach out to other farmers for trusted information, versus Extension or other traditional sources.
Wisconsin leads organic agriculture:
Overall, Wisconsin leads the nation in organic produce and dairy production and is home to the largest organic farming conference, organized by MOSES every February in LaCrosse.
If you have any questions related to the Rural Women's Project, please contact Lisa Kivirist.
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)