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A New Network for Women in Agriculture

To be a woman in agriculture is to face a unique set of challenges. And because I know all too well the trials that women can face as they look to take on leadership roles, I made it a goal as USDA’s Deputy Secretary to start a community for women leaders in agriculture.

This past fall, I held a White House discussion with farmers, agribusiness, academics and youth leaders about the opportunities that exist to help advance women in agriculture to leadership positions. Since that meeting, the response has been overwhelming. Women from all walks of life and every sector of the agriculture supply chain are empowering one another, and they’re sharing beautiful photographs and touching stories about how they’ve done it.

Today, I am announcing the creation of the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network. This newly established network is designed to support and engage women across all areas of agriculture and to foster professional partnerships between women with shared backgrounds, interests, and professional goals.

We have created an e-mail address,, for you to share your suggestions, stories and other snippets on how we can build a new generation of women leaders in agriculture. By e-mailing us, you will automatically be added to the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network.

I am truly excited by the passion and confidence I continue to see in women in agriculture across the country. In the office, on the road, I am constantly stopped by young women looking to find mentorship, or current leaders looking to lift up our next generation. Now, with our new network, you can.

This is just the first step in giving women the tools they need to be successful agricultural leaders. Keep sharing your stories using #womeninag and stay tuned for more information on the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network.

74 Responses to “A New Network for Women in Agriculture”

  1. Beverly Robinson says:

    Excited about this new network. Living in a rural community, we are often not invited to the table. Thus, I was quite humbled when AARP magazine contacted NRCS to spotlight me in their feature story on “Now for my next act” which spotlighted my transition from a college administrator to a “Goat Farmer”. There are indeed many challenges for females in agriculture. Looking forward to services and information sharing in this network.

  2. Mary Ahearn says:

    Please include me in your network. thanks!

  3. Mike McGirr says:

    Working with US land-grant universities, USDA’s NIFA led a 3-year project to strengthen agricultural extension in Afghanistan. It included a Women in Agriculture component. Of course, women there face very different challenges, but there is enough in common to consider how women farmers in the U.S. may mentor (and learn from) women farmers elsewhere in the world. Especially in developing countries, women play an even larger role in the agricultural sector.

  4. Madeline Schultz says:

    The Women in Agriculture Learning Network, an online community at looks forward to partnering with USDA on this new initiative! The Deputy Secretary’s commitment to rural women and to this new project further validates and recognizes the important roles women take on from leadership on cooperative boards to managing the family farm. There’s work to be done, but this is gonna be fun! Let me know how I can help!

  5. Sandy Huey says:

    Please include me in the network. Thanks!

  6. Ginger Myers says:

    Please include me in the network. Thanks.

  7. Maureen Barnard says:

    Yes, please, I would like to be included in the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network.

  8. Doris Mold says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to participate along with you. American Agri-Women is excited about the many new initiatives that we have set in motion as we celebrate our 40th anniversary of being the largest coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business women in the U.S. We have a whole new series of national leadership webinars; new initiatives for up and coming leaders on the national level; and a multitude of local, state and regional programs that we are excited about sharing with a larger audience.

  9. Jan Wirth says:

    Please include me in the network. Thank you.

  10. Deb Whalen says:

    Please include me in the conversation as I live and work on a family farm in rural America so am very interested!

  11. Mary Ann Jackson says:

    Please include me in your network. My husband, son and I just became contract chicken growers after being contract hog growers (Chickens are easier to handle). I am excited about this network and hope to see it grow. I will be telling my agwomen friends about it.

  12. Val Velde says:

    As a long time member of American Agri-Women and MN Agri-Women I join these other members of our Ag community as looking forward to this additional way to network with women in Ag. Through MN Agri-Women we have networking events, mentoring programs, leadership conferences and it’s a great time networking. This is true for those in production agriculture or Ag Business such as myself.

  13. Pamela Sweeten says:

    As a member of California Women for Agriculture and American Agri-Women, which were founded 40 years ago, I am excited to join this network as another resource to continue to grow my own networking community. I am excited to also share Women in Ag for Mentoring and Empowerment(WAME) whose mission is to educate and mentor high school, college and professionals through networking events, tours and meetings. We have a linkedin page so please join us in the conversation.

  14. Jenny Stelmach says:

    As a member of Kentucky Women in Agriculture and American Agri-Women I am excited about another opportunity to network with other women involved in all areas of agriculture. I am excited about what this network can bring. As a member of Kentucky Women in Ag since its incorporation in 2003, I see the importance of keeping women in agriculture connected and supported. American Agri-Women has grown my networking and support base beyond anything I could have ever imagined. In our field it is not uncommon to be the only female in the room for a meeting and to attend numerous of group events where the leadership is 100% male. I have been a commodities broker and grain marketing consultant for over 15 years and cherish the relationships that I have formed over the many years that I can always draw from for networking and support.

  15. Karen Bishop says:

    Please add me to the network. Thanks!

  16. Margarita S says:

    I will be growing(with the support of my family) my hobby farm to a small sustainable farm to bring fresh and healthy food to the community. Please include me in the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network. Gracias!

  17. Arwen McGilvra says:

    Oregon Women for Agriculture saw this need over 45 years ago, and started our independent organization which eventually formed a national organization for women in agriculture, American Agri-Women. My grandmother was one of the founding members for both organizations. Both the state and national organization have great programs for leadership development, legislative action, and public education on agriculture.

  18. Jan Akers says:

    I remember when Joanne Smith was president Of the National cattlemen back in the mid-80s
    For the first time I had a role model who looks like me! Know I was not the only young woman inspired to climb over the fences in place For women at the time and reach for those things we were told we could not achieve I understand well the importance of the younger generation seeing successful women in ag. Add me to your network, Great idea.

  19. Lynn Woolf says:

    Great to hear about this network! I’m a member of Kansas Agri-Women and American Agri-Women. My life has been richer because of the opportunity to learn from other women who share my passion for ag. Kansas Agri-Women and American Agri-Women are both celebrating 40 years. We’re planning lots of events this year to celebrate. I look forward to meeting new women in this network and sharing programs and ideas.

  20. Barbara Womack says:

    I’d like to be part of the network.
    We have a small, diverse farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley where we grow a wide variety of vegetables, lamb, chicken and eggs, direct-marketing everything through our local farmers’ market.

  21. Kathy Mayfield says:

    THANK YOU for recognizing this need! This could be very powerful

  22. Mary Olson says:

    I work at a small Charter High School in rural NM with predominantly Pueblo students. I would like to know how I can get funds for the school garden, as well as empowering the girls (who will become Women before too long!)Previously I worked a 5 acre organic produce and goat dairy farm in AZ. I would love to be part of this network, working towards small scale farming in under served areas.

  23. Annie Ward says:

    Please add me to the network. Thanks!

  24. Tricia Kolsby says:

    I am excited to be a part of this vital piece of our children’s lives and the lives of the human beings that our children touch.

  25. Sonia Gasho says:

    Thanks for starting this. I am also involved with the ANNIE’s Project in Arizona. There is definitely a need.

  26. Dona Coon says:

    I am very proud to be a part of American agriculture. Involvment with organizations such as American AgriWomen make individuals stronger and more easily heard. We are the smallest minority in the United States (according to the CIA – farmers whose primary source of income is agriculture) yet have a vital part in our nation’s history and future. Thank you for this forum.

  27. Deirdre Jarvis says:

    Please add me to this network. I want to see women succeed in the Ag world.

  28. Jeana Hulttquist says:

    Please include me in the #womeninag network. Thank you for your leadership in acknowledging and formulating this empowering group. I have been part of the Farm Credit System for over 33 years and am a member of both California Women in Ag and American AgriWomen.

  29. Susan Wall says:

    I am proud to be an American farmer. I am also proud to be the president of Illinois Agri Women, an affiliate of American Agri Women. We have some great educational and mentoring programs for women involved with agriculture. Our members are very dedicated and intelligent ag women. We celebrate our forty year anniversary this year!

  30. Sharon Schmuhl says:

    Michigan Agri-Women (formerly Women for the Survival of Agriculture in MI) was the founding affiliate of American Agri-Women. I was a member then and am a member today. Recently our state affiliate hosted, with a local winery a “Meet and Greet” evening. 40 years ago the typical farm woman that came to a meeting did so because their husband encouraged them to go and see “what’s going on”; their social activity centered around the church and Ladies Aid; and family and farm were the conversation. Today the meeting place can be a winery, the food/drink a drawing card, and the conversation is farm policy/safety/ farm programs, labor issues, commodity prices, innovative farming ideas, etc. Times have changed and we can thank social network, technology,and our ag groups. All women in ag production and agri-business, etc. have the opportunity to join like minded women at their meetings and annual conventions. I did, and will forever be grateful for the opportunities these organizations afforded me in meeting new friends, learning the trials and tribulations of farmng in other parts of our nation, and the chance to visit other parts of the country. Above all, the knowledge acquired from meeting, knowing, and learning from these people that give their time and talents to agriculture,is a very rewarding part of being a woman involved in agriculture and living in rural America.

  31. Kristi Bishop says:

    I am a member of American Agri-Women and the affiliate Oklahoma Agri-Women. American Agri-Women programs have increased my opportunity to network with women from across the nation representing several commodities. Oklahoma Agri-Women focuses our efforts on educating the public on the importance of agriculture for our states health, economy and environment.

  32. Shari Frasure says:

    Although there is an organization for Ky Women in Ag there is very little networking and I believe the word needs to get out especially in Central Ky area I farm in. I have just become a single female farmer and would love a chance to network with other women

  33. Jennifer Boyles says:

    The South Carolina Women’s Agricultural Network wants to be included!
    I am seeing so many more women throughout the state of South Carolina becoming interested in agriculture from all stages and walks of life. It is exciting to see and the more we can connect the higher the impact!

  34. Weatherly Thomas says:

    Glad this is happening! It’s tough to be a woman landowner/farmer in conventional ag. Please add me to the network.

  35. Christie Badger says:

    Having made the decision to leave my corporate job and become a farmer/agri-preneur full time with my husband, I am more and more excited about the opportunities for women in agriculture. Looking forward to connecting with others through this group.

  36. Sharon Honner says:

    As an Australian farmer who is passionate about building the capacity of women in agriculture I would consider it a privilege to become part of your network. What an amazing opportunity to be able to share our learnings, challenges and successes across the globe.

  37. Deb Gangwish says:

    Thank you so much for initiating this network. Left my career as a school psychologist to join my husband and our employees on our farm. Have savored every opportunity to connect with the others in ag – but want to do more with our growers associations – no women in leadership positions – will break this barrier at some level, local or state. Thank you for this opportunity to connect with other like minded women!

  38. Bridget Kubes says:

    I would like to join the network! What do I need to do?

  39. Suzy lee says:

    Please add me to this network. Thanks!

  40. Nikki Allgaier says:

    Please include me as the mentored not mentor! We’re just starting our farm and have so much still to learn!

  41. Tammy Jo Burnell says:

    Pleas add me to this network. Thanks

  42. Louise Edsall says:

    Please add me to this network. I did send an email. I am a beekeeper and an environmental educator to children on the value of the honey bee and other pollinators. Encouraging more knowledge in farm to table to our youth. I would be very interested in expanding my program with Sweet Virginia to communities nationwide.

  43. Amy Billings says:

    Please add me, too!

  44. Avi Alcala says:

    I would like to join the network too. Thanks!

  45. Denise says:

    Please include me in the network

  46. Amanda says:

    I would like to be included in the network. Thank you for paving the way for future women in agriculture like myself!

  47. Melissa Woolpert says:

    I would like to be included in the network. Thank you!

  48. Nanette Ward says:

    Please include me. Thanks

  49. Mirza Halim says:

    Please add me to the network

  50. Sandol Johnson says:

    Please add me to the network…..I am excited to have Women in Ag recognized by the USDA. I have worked in ag for 40+ years with the USDA and in education and personal consulting. The future is bright for women and agriculture!!

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