The Female Farmer Project

The Lempert Report
March 26, 2018

This may very well be what agriculture needs.

Ron Holden, a fellow Forbes columnist writes a great piece on female farmers. Only 14% of American farmers are women, and they cultivate less than 10% of the farmland. (And half of them hold outside jobs, he reports in addition to caring for their own families.) But they are younger and often better educated than their brothers and fathers. 

Audra Gaines Mulkern would probably not describe herself as an activist, yet her mission, these days, is advocacy on behalf of farms in general and female farmers in particular. She fiercely believes that the plethora of "future of food" conferences that dot the urban landscape pay scant attention to farms and farmers, and even less to female farmers. 

"The food movement has left out the producer," she complained to Holden. "Why are we talking about food without production?" 

A decade ago she started the Female Farmer Project that documents the rise of women in agriculture. The website offers a plethora of photos, the documentary film, Women’s Work – the untold story of America’s Female Farmers, podcasts hosted by Audra, and lots more. One of the most important pieces of work on the website is an article about the US Farmer Suicide Crisis and what we can all do to help stop this dire situation. Since 2013 net farm income for US farmers has declined by 50%; and the median farm income for 2017 is projected to be a negative $1,325. 

She told Ron that The Female Farmer Project has become her mid-life calling. She got caught up in it, and only now realizes how important it is, not just to her personally but to the underlying cause of bringing more women into agriculture. 

It's a mission that is critical, especially as we begin to hear the debates about the new Farm Bill.