MANITOWOC COUNTY (NBC 26) — Dozens of women from across Wisconsin gathered at the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc County Wednesday to connect and talk about the importance of women in agriculture. It’s all part of UW-Extension’s Women in Agriculture Program.
Census data shows that in 2019, women made up 36% of farmers.— that’s a 27 percent increase from 2012.
Toni Sorenson has a cherry and cash crop operation in Door County and works as a financial services officer at GreenStone Farm Credit Services.
“I think women have always played a very vital role in agriculture,” Sorenson said. “They may have been more in the background historically, but with a kind of a movement of women and leadership, it's been awesome to see these ladies, like, thrive and take on leadership positions.”
Shelly Mayer's family has been farming for 8 generations, and she’s looking to continue to expand their family’s business.
“I think about how vital women are in all parts of the community and in agriculture it’s certainly no different,” Mayer said. “I think back to my grandmother and my mother, and the role that my daughter will have.”
Speakers at the event focused on how the economy could impact the agriculture industry.
“In many cases, women are doing the same roles that the men are doing on farms,” Amanda Kroll, a loan officer for GreenStone, said. “A lot of times they also are involved with the administrative side of things, so it's important that they understand what is going on in the economy.”
Mayer said she always looks forward to not only sharing her own family’s experience, but also learning from peers in the industry.
“It's just so nice to be able to sit and listen and learn from others that fills up my cup,” Mayer said. “When I go home, I can share with our daughter who farms with us some of the things that we're learning.”
Organizers said they hope the women in attendance gain more support and knowledge of the industry.
“There's so many opportunities for women to get involved in agriculture and all the trends are showing a lot of farms… are being run by women and that's a shift from the past of being a male dominated occupation,” Angie Ulness with UW-Madison Division of Extension said.