There are countless women who have shown their passion, dedication, and influence in agriculture, but to truly list them all out wouldn’t be feasible. The truth is that there are many women, from the international level down to the county levels, who have inspired us and made way for more equal representation in our industry. So, it’s only fitting to highlight agricultural organizations in the United States that exist for women and are run by women.
Not only do inspirational women lead and participate in these organizations, but these organizations also help bring a voice to the female demographic in agriculture, while bringing us all together to create a stronger industry. It is because of these organizations that women have more opportunities in agriculture. If you are curious about becoming more involved be sure to check out the websites of these prominent groups for women in agriculture!
American Agri-Women (AAW) officially began November 14, 1974, founded by four state women’s agriculture groups: Women for the Survival of Agriculture in Michigan, Wisconsin Women for Agriculture, Oregon Women for Agriculture, and the Washington Women for the Survival of Agriculture. Kansas Agri-Women (then United Farm Wives of Kansas) and Illinois Agri-Women (then Illinois Women for Agriculture) joined soon thereafter. Today, AAW has more than 50 state and commodity affiliate organizations as well as individual members throughout the country, representing tens of thousands of women involved in agriculture. That makes it the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women around.
Throughout the history of AAW, our members have been actively involved and making a difference in legislative and regulatory matters at the local, state, and national levels. They have also been instrumental in student and consumer education about agriculture, having initiated the Agriculture in the Classroom program at the national level, and are integrally involved in national and state programs still today.
Annie’s Project – Education for Farm Women
Annie’s Project is a 501 c(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational programs — such as Annie’s Project, Managing for Today and Tomorrow, and Inspired by Annie’s Project — designed to strengthen women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise.
Its mission is to empower farm and ranch women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information.
Annie’s Project was inspired by Northern Illinois resident Annette Kohlhagen Fleck, who married a farmer and spent her life learning how to be an involved business partner in the agricultural operation — and succeeding at it.
American National CattleWomen
In 1952, cattlewomen had the foresight to organize so that their individual messages would unite to have a strong national voice. This national voice has since had impact on consumers, politicians, and other cattle producers all over the United States.
By joining ANCW, members become part of a professional networking group that keeps up to date on the issues related to the beef industry, which includes consumer education, promotion ideas and legislative items of interest.
Today, ANCW continues to impact beef promotion, legislation, and education and development! There are a slew of benefits for members, including support opportunities and networking.
The American National CattleWomen Foundation is a nonprofit 501 c3 Foundation, organized and founded by ANCW members to generate funds for charitable, scientific, or educational purposes.
Most of the funds donated have been invested with the dividends and interest going for scholarships and educational programs. Grants have been administered as directed. Based upon performance, since 1992, more than $50,000 in scholarships have been applied to college tuition for the winning Beef Ambassadors. Educational and leadership programs at ANCW conventions also qualify for support from the Foundation.
California Women For Agriculture
California Women for Agriculture was formed in 1975, in the Coachella Valley, its name chosen to develop a cross section of members. In fact, the nucleus of the first chapter was made up of consumers, as well as farmers and ranchers. Today its membership is as diverse as the industry its represents: bankers, lawyers, accountants, marketing professionals, consumers, and farmers and ranchers. With over 20 chapters and 1,300-plus members across the state, CWA is the most active, all volunteer agricultural organization in the state, and members are actively engaged in public relations, education, and legislative advocacy on behalf of agriculture.
The Agricultural Awareness and Literacy Foundation is its 501c(3) foundation.
AAL is dedicated to ensuring that generations of children will have access to farm facts and educational material and experiences through its Farmology program and other efforts.
Country Women’s Council USA
The Country Women’s Council of the United States of America (CWC) is a coordinating council composed of Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) member societies in the USA.
The Country Women’s Council of the United States of America objective is to unite into a cooperative, working organization, the USA societies affiliated with the Associated Country Women of the World, whose rural and urban members represent varied races, nationalities and creeds; who believe that communication based on friendship and understanding will advance peace and progress; and who believe that the quality of life is improved for all people through the following:
- The relief of poverty,
- The advancement of education and,
- The relief of sickness, and the protection and preservation of health.
- Provide a means whereby the member societies of CWC may meet for discussion and consultation on matters pertaining to ACWW.
- Discuss and correlate recommendations of member societies to ACWW as to its policies and activities, always considering the international character of ACWW.
National Women in Agriculture Foundation
The National Women In Agriculture Association (NWIAA) was founded and established in February 2008 by Tammy Gray-Steele, the Executive Director. The organization is headquartered in Oklahoma City.
NWIAA’s stated mission is “to save lives and eliminate poverty by increasing the availability of fresh, locally grown foods while expanding economic opportunities.” The organization is an agriculture outreach, fueled by sisterhood, need, and diversity.
NWIAA believes rural women, especially minority women, have been neglected, that the lack of resources has stagnated rural development nationwide. NWIAA is the first minority woman-owned and operated organization that provides innovative outreach education that attracts and sustains current and future generations with its innovative, spiritual, and USDA certified education techniques.
The NWIAA Mississippi Chapter was established in July 2011. The NWIAA Alabama Chapter was established in August 2011. Soon, other chapters began springing up all over the nation!
Women, Food and Agriculture Network
The idea of Women, Food and Agriculture Network was born in 1994, when Iowa organic farmer Denise O’Brien and New York state food justice advocate Kathy Lawrence organized a women in agriculture working group for the United Nations’ fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. They were passionate about addressing the absence of women’s voices in agricultural policy in the U.S. and abroad. They wanted to empower women as champions of healthy food and farming systems, food justice, and food sovereignty within their own communities.
Women make up more than half the U.S. population and own an increasing number of farms. But women are under-represented on the boards of policy-making bodies, and often encounter communications barriers when accessing information from agencies and institutions. WFAN exists so that women can give each other the information, connections, and encouragement they need to be effective practitioners and supporters of sustainable agriculture and healthy localized food systems. WFAN members come from all across the U.S. and several other countries. The group is diverse in ages (ranging from teens to 80s) and backgrounds. The members are farmers, urban gardeners, environmental educators, community activists, academics, and others who care about food and the environment.
Markie Hageman lives in California and is an agribusiness graduate from Fort Hays State University. She is the Communications Coordinator for California Rangeland Trust and is an avid agriculture advocate. Her AGDAILY articles can be found here.