Women in Agriculture Gathering provides ‘wealth of information’

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RICHMOND—More than 80 farm women listened to experts, shared ideas and made plans to implement them during the Virginia Women in Agriculture Gathering March 24.

The conference, held at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation headquarters, was presented by Virginia Cooperative Extension and supported by Virginia Farm Bureau and its Women’s Committees.

“The Women in Agriculture event was very well planned,” said Susan Smith, Capital District chairman for the VFBF Women’s Committee. “Those attending had ample opportunity to listen to experienced speakers, ask questions, share ideas and make plans to implement new ideas. I do believe these women left knowing there is a wealth of information and help at their fingertips.”

The keynote speaker was Lauren Arbogast, who is involved in her family’s Rockingham County farm and is one of five U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Faces of Farming & Ranching. Arbogast spoke about social media, advocating for agriculture and the key role women play in shaping the voice and face of the industry.

“We need to be connecting with people, not yelling at them,” Arbogast shared. From her time representing farmers for USFRA, she learned that “the diversity of agriculture is our strength, and if we don’t all come to the table as agriculture, then we’ve already shot ourselves in the foot.”

Workshops were held throughout the day on topics farmers need to know such as large equipment maintenance, vegetable production and animal first aid. There also were workshops on social media and agritourism and how farmers can use those venues to help promote their farms to the public.

Events like this are important for women, explained Robin Kinney, American Farm Bureau Federation’s managing director of member engagement. “We are seeing the number of women in agriculture increasing each year,” explained Kinney, who grew up on a Minnesota farm and now lives in Virginia.

“The results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture will be released beginning in February 2019 and there’s still time for your voice to be heard,” she urged participants. “There are questions on the upcoming census that go deeper into the roles women have on the farm, so you don’t have to be a primary operator to be counted. There is still time to be counted; fill out your census survey and get it in!”

Media: Contact Charlotte Maxwell, Virginia Cooperative Extension, at 804-556-5872.

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