Women take larger roles in agriculture
That arrangement is becoming increasingly common in farming as women take on bigger roles, said Carolyn Sachs, a professor of rural sociology and women's studies at Penn State University. Sachs was the lead author of the book, “The Rise of Women Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture,” published in May.
From 2002 to 2012, the number of women nationwide serving as principal operators of a farm jumped 29 percent, Sachs found. And for women who farm with a spouse or partner, many have bigger responsibilities than in decades past, she said.
About 30 percent of farmers in the United States are women. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said there were nearly 970,000 female farm operators in 2012.
Many women are focusing on smaller farms that produce specialty crops or organic produce while large-scale commercial farms — such as those that produce more corn, soybeans or dairy cattle— are still dominated by men, Sachs said.
According to the Department of Agriculture, more than 90 percent of female farmers operate farms that generate less than $50,000 each. Eighty-two percent of farms whose principal operator is a woman are smaller than 180 acres.
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