During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an important call to action for our country:
“This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I would like to call attention to the remarkable work of women of agriculture. Not only are women the heart of many family farming operations across the country, women are starting and growing their own agricultural businesses– creating opportunity and economic growth for their families and in their local communities.
I have had the privilege of meeting many of these women. Just last month, while in Texas, I met Sandy Winokur. Sandy is a Ph.D., an artist, a farmer and a businesswoman. Sandy decided to leave a career in the arts to move back to Texas and start an olive orchard, inspired by her time in the Mediterranean. Today, Sandy’s orchard is home to thousands of olive trees, and her business sells everything from olive almond brittle to lip balm.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Pam Schreiber, owner of Eight Mile Creek Farm, while traveling in New York. In 2005, Pam set out to build her own diversified agricultural business, all while raising her three children. She had no previous background in farming, but it was her deep connection to the land that inspired her to get started. She now produces more than 30 different kinds of fruits and vegetables, certified organic grass-fed beef, organic pork, organic heritage chicken, and cage-free organic eggs.
This month, I met with a new farmer from Georgia, Casey Cox. Casey grew up in my hometown of Camilla, Ga., and returned home after college to work for the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District. She’s also working on her family farm – learning the ropes in her family’s vegetable, grain, peanut, and timber operation. Casey’s passion is not just cultivating crops but also enhancing the process of agriculture by innovating in the field.
USDA continues to partner with these women to help them get started and grow their businesses. Women’s History Month is a great time to shine light on the hard work women in agriculture do each and every day. Agriculture is an incredibly rewarding career path and I hope these stories will inspire more women to enter into the field of agriculture in the future.