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Number of women farmers increasing; local female operators are working together

The nation is seeing a spike in women farmers, especially in the Hoosier state. To keep that number growing, officials in our area want to help.

More than one million women operate farms in the nation and nearly half of that land is owned by women operators here in the Midwest.

According to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, there are 58,695 farms and of those, 5,745 have women as the main operator.

“For many years, conservation has always been kind of centered around the male or the farmers been distinguished as kind of the male figure, and that over the years is changing,” said James Hess from the Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District.

“As our age increases on our farming and the farmers involved, there is a rate there where you know the women may outlast their husband and what not. Women are being more involved.” Hess said.

To keep that number growing, especially in our area, the soil and water conservation districts of Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties are collaborating to create new programs.

The first ever “Women’s Conservation Learning Circle” is taking place Tuesday at the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce. It will bring together female farmers and landowners from those counties.

“We want to continue to have small group meetings like this to help better educate and make sure that all the women have this availability, and make it feel very informative and relaxing and just kind of be a small discussion,” Hess said.

They will share resources and tips on managing their farms, soil health and government regulations.

Various local experts will also make an appearance to lead the discussions. The women will have the opportunity to go out in the field later on in the day for a hands-on learning experience. 

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