The number of women in farming is on the rise.
The U.S. Census of Agriculture, which has been surveying the gender, race and ethnic origin of principal farm operators since 2007, reported more than 36% of American farmers were women in 2017. Twenty-nine percent were principal operators, and 78% of all female producers said they are involved in daily decisions.
In Virginia, female farmers are involved with 23,575 farms, and they are principal operators of 16,456.
Joanne Jones, who manages her husband’s family’s 450-acre, third-generation Dark Leaf Farm in Appomattox County, is one of them.
“I feel like women always have played more of a role than what’s been recognized,” she said.
In addition to harvesting and planting soybeans, tobacco and wheat, Jones handles the farm’s paperwork.
“If you’re the one doing that, you know what’s making money and what’s not—what’s losing, what’s gaining.”
Jones, who also works as a full-time Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Charlotte County, admits it was difficult getting people to take her seriously in the early days, but six years as president of Appomattox County Farm Bureau helped her build respect.Continue reading