Number of Michigan farms operated by women doubles in 30 years

Sep 19, 2011

The number of women running farms in Michigan is growing, according to a report in today's Lansing State Journal:

The number of Michigan farm acres managed by female principal operators has more than doubled in 30 years, from 252,980 acres in 1978 to 552,075 acres in 2007, the most recent date available from the United States Department of Agriculture's Michigan Field Office.

Laura Misjak from the Journal reports that the trend is in line with national figures that show increasing numbers of women managing farms.

The report attributes the increase to collapsing gender barriers, "new opportunities in small-scale farming," and programs geared toward attracting women to farming.

In addition, more non-profits and government groups have launched programs to educate and attract women to the field.

Even though the trend for women in agriculture is growing, the report states that men still make up the "vast majority" of owners and operators of large farms with commodity crops.

The story ends with this quote from Emily Freeh, manager of nonprofit Community Based Intervention's Giving Tree Farm:

"I think a female point of view could be a little more holistic, taking into account more the cause and effect of the way that you do things," she said. "It would be more difficult for women to ignore the negative effects of chemicals and excessive fertilizers. It's more of a nurturing thing."

How much do you think a farmer's gender plays into their ability to be good stewards of the land?