I remember going off to college years ago on the east coast and having my first encounter with a diehard feminist professor. We didn’t exactly hit it off. Being born and raised in rural Meade County, I had a difficult time accepting anything she was preaching about.
Growing up in the farm fields of Flaherty, I laughed at the idea that any woman or girl was being oppressed or held back. Where I came from, women were held in the highest regard. Mothers, wives and daughters were revered to the point that disrespecting any one of them was a sure way to confrontation. Furthermore, I had met more than a few country girls that needed no one taking up for them. If grade school and high school had taught me anything, it was that those county girls didn’t need any man to take up for them—they were quite capable of removing a smirk from some smart mouthed city boy’s face all by themselves.
This week we celebrate Kentucky Women in Ag Day. Many outside the agriculture industry have a convoluted view of women in agriculture. This was the case with the aforementioned professor who tried to make an example of me by pointing out to the class that I came from the epicenter of male misogyny in rural Kentucky, after I tried to argue a point she had tried to make in class. The truth, however, is that women have been a vital part of agriculture since its inception. In today’s world, the diversification of agriculture practices has also witnessed the diversification of women’s roles in agriculture.
In 2020, there were 3,399,834 farmers in the U.S. with 1,227,461 being women. Over half of all farms have at least one female decision-maker in the operation. From classrooms to board rooms to farmlands to research labs, women are leading, advocating and supporting agriculture in every facet of the industry.
Whether it is at the forefront or behind the scenes, they play an invaluable role. In the coming weeks, we will introduce you to some of the outstanding women that help drive agriculture right here in Meade County and play huge roles in ensuring not only there is food on everyone’s table but so much more.
They are a strong group but also a diverse group. Some were born and raised on farms, but some never imagined themselves on a farm. Some are fully involved in production agriculture while others advocate for agriculture. Then, others use their roles as educators to bring a whole new generation of young Meade Countians into the world of agriculture as they mold them into future ag leaders.
One of the first ladies contacted to take part in this series refused at first because she felt as if she didn’t do anything special. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. This is why we celebrate the women of agriculture this week and plan to showcase the vital roles they play over the coming weeks, regardless of how humble some of them may be.