Her Land, Her Farm
Farmer Helen Gunderson

Her Land, Her Farm

Women Take the Reins

The old farmer stereotype of a white guy in overalls has at least one truth to it: The majority of farmers in the U.S. are white males.

But a growing number of women are joining their ranks. Women now run about 300,000 farms — 14 percent of the total, up from only 5 percent in the 1980s.

Just since 2002, there's been a 30 percent increase in the number of female-run farms, said Leigh Adcock, the director of the Women Food and Agriculture Network, a national group supporting women farmers and sustainable farming. 

And while women have long been a part of farm life, women landowners frequently face unique social and cultural challenges. Advocates say that they haven't always been respected as farm decision makers and leaders.

Reporter Kathleen Masterson, who is based at Iowa Public Radio, took a look at the unique challenges these women face in a series of stories and a video for Harvest Public Media.  She traveled the Midwest to talk with women about why they want to be connected to the land and why it’s often more difficult for them to succeed.

As landowner Helen Gunderson told Masterson: “Girls could grow up to be farmers’ wives but for a woman to actually consider herself to be a farmer or grow up to be a farmer, that wasn’t in the script.”


Watch how a Kansas mom and her daughters are thriving in the dairy industry. And click here to read Kathleen Masterson's blog post on the dairy.