Thursday, February 20, 2014


2012 Ag Census Figures Show Women Principal Operators Holding Steady at 14% of Total

Women continue as principal operators of 14% of the nation's farms, even though the total number of farms declined between 2007 and 2012, according to preliminary figures released today by the US Department of Agriculture.
Women were listed as principal operators of 288,269 farms nationwide in 2012, compared to 306,209 in 2007. The overall number of farm operators declined from 2.2 million to 2.11 million during that five-year span. Men and women appear to have left farming at an equivalent rate.

Women continue to operate smaller farms than men, earn less income on average, and own a greater percentage of their farmland. This corresponds to the type of farms a majority of women operate: small-scale, diversified farms producing goods for direct sale, rather than the large commodity farms that tend to be operated by men.

"Our network continues to receive calls from aspiring and beginning women farmers all over the US, looking for technical and financial support, and for community," said Adcock. "The network has grown from 300 in 2008 to more than 4,000 today. Women in sustainable agriculture are here to stay."

The 2007 ag census showed a 30% increase in the number of female principal operators since 2002.
"Some of the jump we saw in women operators between 2002 and 2007 may have been due to improved sampling techniques," said Leigh Adcock, executive director of Women, Food and Agriculture Network. "In past years, the census questionnaire had only one space for the primary operator, and in a farm partnership the man typically filled out that form."

Beginning in 2002, the census form included space for two primary operators, allowing women to be more accurately counted.

Adcock added that the preliminary census publication does not yet provide information on women as a percentage of all farm operators (as opposed to principal operators).

Read the 2012 Ag Census Preliminary Report at this link. Data specific to women primary operators, nationwide and by state, begin on page 18 of the report.

Visit WFAN's website to learn more about our programming for women farmers, landowners, and healthy food systems advocates.

WFAN''s mision is to link and empower women to build food systems and communities that are healthy, just, sustainable, and that promote environmental integrity.

For more information, call 515 460 2477, or click here to email the staff.

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