Ag industry seeing increase in women farmers - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Ag industry seeing increase in women farmers

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JACKSON CO. --  While women farmers face some challenges in the agriculture field, many say those challenges wont stop them from thriving on farms.

The USDA reported women account for 30 percent of farm operators in the U.S. and local farmers say those numbers keep growing. 

"You're not just the farmer's wife, you're the farmer," said Ava-resident and farmer Pam Dierks. "You see all these women that are playing huge parts on the farms and some of them actually run the farms themselves." 

Dierks works with her family on their grass fed beef farm, Dierks Farm. She loves her job but it sometimes comes with hurdles.

"You're not taken seriously," Dierks said. "You still have the people that look at it and think a farmer has to be a man."

Despite the challenges, women continue to grow in the agriculture industry. Lynn Heins works at the University of Illinois Extension in Murphysboro and told News 3 about one in seven farms are managed by a female farmer.

"I personally know a lot of farm women that are out doing the vaccinations on the hogs, they're driving the combine and they're doing the record books," Heins said.

Heins hopes those women will inspire her 5-year-old twins. 

"I have two daughters myself and I want them to know that they could have equally powerful contributions to the farming industry that men can have," Heins said.

While Lynn thinks about the possibilities for her daughters, Dierks thinks about her children and her granddaughter.

"My boys will be fifth-generation of the farm and hopefully our little grand daughter will be the 6th generation," Dierks said. 

And she hopes to see more women across southern Illinois take on roles in agriculture.

"It's happening, but it just takes the strong women to stand up and say they're part of this too," Dierks said.

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