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Women as the Minority, What does that mean?

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I saw this picture from another woman in agriculture just today on my Facebook feed.  It was from Jenny Burgess who is from Sterling, Kansas.




It got me thinking.  I have been a minority for the past 8 years as a farmer.  I looked up the statistics and of the 3% of us who are farming in the US, only 4% are women.  Of those 4%, only 8% are under 35, and only 1% of those are principle operators.  You can do the math on how rare a 31 year old woman running a farm is.  Basically I know that when I walk into a meeting, it's no shock that I am usually one of two ladies in the room.


But to be honest, I never really pay any attention to it.  Since I left my small town to head off to Los Angeles of all places to go to college, I know that not many people expected me to return home to the family business of farming.  And I still have people that say they are surprised that I'm doing what I am, even after 8 years.  But I never let that frustrate me or get me down.  I know looking back now, I never really even noticed that I was the minority, I just joined right in. 


I think that is had made me work harder though.  I remember one farmer said they bet I would get rid of our open cab sprayer soon since I had to be out in the cold weather.  But instead of getting under my skin, it just made me hold my head higher when I was out there in the elements.  True confession though, we now have a cabbed sprayer 🙂


I just feel like women in agriculture sometimes get caught up in the fact that they are women and we need to get recognition for it.  I hear a lot of frustrations when women hear the phrase, "When the farm is taken over by the son...." But let's be honest here, for hundreds of years farms have been taken over traditionally by the sons.  And that's ok, we are living in a different world now where because of mechanization among many other cultural changes, women can now do many of the jobs that quite frankly I know I couldn't have done in the past.  I am guessing that 50 years ago I would be at home with my kiddo while my husband was farming, and that's ok! 


We need to be proud of how far we have come as women, but I think that we also need to quit trying to exclude ourselves by going too far over the feminist line.  Like the photo says, see it as an opportunity to show off your stuff, be the hard worker, the smart business person.  But don't do it just because you're a woman, do it because you love what you do and you're thankful that we can. I don't want to be a woman that farms, I just like that I'm a farmer, for me it's that simple.

About the Author
Brenda Frketich is a third generation farmer from St. Paul, Oregon. She has been farming full time since 2006 and currently manages her family's 1000 acre farm. They raise grass seed, hazelnuts, crimson clover, wheat, vegetable seeds and peas. She grew up on the farm but never thought that farming was what would be her future. She left her small town to Los Angeles to get a degree in Business. But after years of city living she realized farming was in her blood. Brenda is very involved in many parts of her industry and community. She is a volunteer Firefighter and EMT in her small town. She is involved in Farm Bureau, is a Clover Commissioner, and always tries to find new ways to bridge the gap between her urban neighbors and her rural life of farming. One of the ways she does this is through this blog, and also her personal blog, Brenda is married to Matt Frketich who has also recently started farming with her. They also have a son, Hoot, and old hunting dog, Diesel and farm dog Yukon.