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Women play central role in Idaho agriculture

by SEN. MIKE CRAPO/Contributing Writer
| June 23, 2022 1:00 AM

As agriculture production heats up in fields and communities across our great state, it is a good time to spotlight the leadership of Idaho women in feeding a hungry world and building Idaho into an agricultural powerhouse. This spring, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing “the important role of women in agriculture as producers, educators, leaders, mentors, and more; …”

I was proud to co-sponsor the resolution, introduced by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and backed by 59 total senators, including fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch. The resolution contains a number of facts about women who help agriculture prosper both at home and abroad, including:

• There are more than 1.2 million female agricultural producers in the U.S., making up more than a third of the agricultural producers in the U.S.

• In 2017, farms operated by women in the U.S. sold $148 billion in agricultural products, accounting for 38 percent of the total agriculture sales in the U.S. for that year.

The Senate also recognized, “in addition to leading farming operations, women working in agriculture make a difference across the United States in various commodity and industry fields, such as research and development, manufacturing, sales and distribution, agricultural education, agribusiness and advocacy, which extends benefits to individuals across the globe through the international trade of the United States; …”

Women have a central role in Idaho agriculture production. In Idaho, 70 percent of farm operations (or 16,134 farm operations) have at least one-woman operator, according to a University of Idaho Extension fact sheet based on U.S. Department of Agriculture 2017 Census of Agriculture data. Also according to this and other University of Idaho research:

• 39 percent of farmers (or 17,230 women farmers) in Idaho are women;

• 45 percent of principal farmers in Idaho are women; and

• Idaho women primary farmers and ranchers (those who made the most farm decisions and worked the fewest days off farm) are responsible for more than 42 percent of hay and cattle production in Idaho.

Further, in the Spring of 2021, the Idaho Women in Ag Research Team conducted a statewide survey to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho’s women in agriculture and how educational programs can better support them. According to this Idaho Farm and Ranch Women Survey, 2021, the following were the top five products produced on the farms and ranches of the women who responded to the survey:

1) hay or forage crops;

2) cattle;

3) poultry or eggs;

4) vegetables; and

5) field crops.

The courage and skills of Idaho women remain among our state’s enduring strengths. Women shape the history and future of our great state and nation. Their determination, wisdom, know-how and encouragement are ever-present in our communities, and I thank Idaho women working hard every day to feed our world and inspire future generations of producers.

• • •

Mike Crapo represents Idaho’s First Congressional District in the U.S. Senate. He can be reached at crapo.senate.gov.

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