Women In Agriculture: How the Produce Sector is Changing

For thousands of years, women have played an important role in agriculture, but their contributions have often not been recognized. In recent years, however, the number of women working in the agricultural sector has been increasing, primarily in farm and business leadership. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), women now make up about 30% of all farmers and ranchers in the country.

Here’s what you should know about women in agriculture, and how Silo can help you streamline operations so you can focus on managing and diversifying your workforce.

The increased amount of women in the produce sector

So you may be wondering: why is the amount of women increasing in the produce sector?

Opportunity

The produce sector is one area where women have made and have the potential to make a significant impact. In fact, women account for a substantial amount of all workers in this field. This is largely due to the increase in demand for organic and sustainable farming practices, allowing women more opportunities to take over farms and businesses that focus on these methods.

The increase in women farmers and women in agribusiness has also been fueled by the consumer want for locally grown food. As more and more consumers become interested in buying produce that’s grown close to home to reduce their carbon footprint, women farmers have tapped into this market by selling their products directly to customers at farmers markets and through community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs.

As the world population grows, the demand for fresh produce in general has increased dramatically, creating favorable circumstances for women to enter into the produce field and succeed. 

Worker retention

The produce field has offered the opportunity to create a more balanced lifestyle for women and their families. This is especially true for career-driven mothers and stay-at-home fathers who want to be able to spend more time with their children.

Many are drawn to the produce sector, as it provides them with an opportunity to use their skills and knowledge to benefit society as a whole. For many women, this can be a rewarding experience that can motivate them to continue working in the field. Women who are searching for a fulfilling career may therefore be more likely to stay and carve out a place in the industry.

While there are still outstanding issues that many women face in the produce sector (that we’ll go over later in this article), fortunately, working conditions have improved drastically in recent years, making it a much more attractive option for women. The pay in the produce sector has also increased, making it a more financially viable alternative. 

The benefits of having women in the produce sector

Although having women in agriculture is significant, it’s not the only area of the produce sector where they’re making a difference. Women are also working in other areas of the food industry, such as food processing, food distribution, and food policy. In fact, women now make up nearly half of all workers in the food industry.

The increase in women working in the produce industry has brought about many positive changes. For one thing, it has helped to diversify the workforce, which not only helps combat sexism and general inequality in the workforce, but allows for fresh and unique perspectives and skills to be brought to the table, improving the way that business is practiced. 

Additionally, the influx of working women and more opportunities for small-scale and organic farmers has helped local economies flourish.

The challenges of women in the produce sector

Despite the many benefits of having women in agriculture, they still face many challenges to this day that the industry must address to ensure equal access and a safe working environment for all.

Lack of access

Farmers who happen to be female can lack access to financing that could help them acquire land, as well as other resources. Difficulty obtaining loans or other financial assistance may be brought about by discrimination that views women as high-risk borrowers. 

After all, studies have shown that women, on average, earn less than their male counterparts due to implicit biases, which can act as a barrier in not only acquiring resources, but also entering contractual agreements.

Lack of access can also manifest in limited pathways to entry into agricultural training and education, as well as access to credit for work done by a woman, leading women to have to go above and beyond to prove themselves.

Sexism

On a related note, women in agriculture may face discrimination in the workplace even in leadership roles. Sometimes, running a farm isn’t enough—business partners may ignore women or opt to speak with men even with female leadership.

Finding mentors and role models within the industry can often be difficult, but it can be an easy way to combat sexism, as it can create a sense of comradery and solidarity.

The future of women in the produce sector

Despite the challenges, women play an important role in the produce sector. As the number of women working in this field continues to grow, we can expect to see more positive changes in the way that agriculture is practiced and businesses are run.

The future of women in agriculture looks promising. As more and more women become involved in the produce industry and a positive impact is seen, industry growth will become inevitable. Empowering women in agriculture means removing the barriers present to promote greater equitability and sustainability.

If you are a woman interested in getting involved in agriculture, there are many ways to do so. You could, for example, start your own farm, join an existing farm, or work for an agricultural organization. You can also get involved in food processing, food distribution, or food policy. Whatever path you choose, you can be sure that you will be making a difference in the produce sector.

Silo is your solution to business growth

With the unique perspectives and skills that women have to offer, they are well-positioned to help meet the challenges of feeding the world. The produce industry, however, must also change and innovate to keep up with demand.

Investing in ERP software solutions like Silo can help businesses grow, as they help automate operations and allow business owners to react quicker to market trends. Silo Capital also gives you access to the capital necessary to thrive.

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