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Female Farmers Play a Critical Role in Vermont’s Ag Economy

March is Women’s History month, and Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets is taking advantage of the occasion to highlight the important role women play in Vermont’s Ag community.

Women represent about 22.3% of the principal farm operators in Vermont, according to the most recent USDA agricultural census. That number is significantly greater than the national average, which is 14%. (A “principal operator” is defined as the person overseeing the daily farm operations.) Vermont ranks 9th in the nation for percentage of principal farm operators that are women.*

Vermont has over 7300 farms total, and more than 4700 female farmers. Vermont ranks 8th in the nation for percentage of total farm operators that are women.**

“We have a strong tradition of female farmers here in Vermont,” according to Mary Peabody, Director of the Women’s Agricultural Network at UVM. “These numbers reflect what we see in our communities every day – women are critical to the success of Vermont’s agricultural economy.”

“As we celebrate women’s history month, I want to thank all the women who play a role in making Vermont’s agricultural economy great,” said Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts. “They play critical role as business owners, vets, Ag service providers, leaders of our statewide ag organizations, and as members of farm families. We are grateful for all they do!”

Farmer Spotlight: Mari Omland and Laura Olsen operate Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield. Both made a mid-career shift into agriculture, each bringing 15 years of experience managing small to large non-profits and the skills and talents developed along the way. They produce meat (pork, chicken, turkey and goat), eggs, vegetables, and goat milk, and offer a farm share, and farm stay experiences for tourists. To learn more about this unique farm, and the women who make it possible, visit http://eatstayfarm.com/

For more profiles of Vermont’s fearless female farmers, visit:

Jinny Cleland of South Royalton’s Four Springs Farm

Lindsay Arbuckle of Alchemy Gardens in Shrewsbury

Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm in Rochester

Christa Alexander of Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho

Joanna Lidback of The Farm at Wheeler Mountain in Barton

To learn more about how the Women’s Agricultural Network supports Vermont’s female farmers, visit http://www.uvm.edu/wagn/

Women play a particularly large role in agriculture in the Northeast region, as evidenced below:

2012 USDA Ag Census Rankings

*Vermont ranks 9th in the nation for percentage of principal female operators

  1. Arizona: 39.2%
  2. Alaska: 32.8%
  3. Massachusetts: 32.3%
  4. New Hampshire : 30.9%
  5. Maine: 29.1%
  6. Connecticut: 25.2%
  7. Rhode Island: 24.6%
  8. Hawaii: 22.5%
  9. Vermont: 22.4%
  10. Nevada: 21.6%

 **Vermont ranks 8th in the nation for percentage of total female operators

  1. Arizona: 44.8%
  2. Alaska: 42.7%
  3. New Hampshire : 42.4%
  4. Massachusetts: 41.6%
  5. Maine: 41.0%
  6. Oregon: 39.3%
  7. Nevada: 39.3%
  8. Vermont: 39.3%
  9. Connecticut: 39.1%
  10. Rhode Island: 37.6%