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Wisconsin Women: Playing a Bigger Role Down on the Farm

October 15, 2007

Chippewa Falls, WI – More and more, women are taking charge on the farm. According to sponsors of today's "World Rural Women's Day," there is a new trend of women as primary owners and operators.

Sue Beitlich with the Wisconsin Farmers Union says women have always played a major role in Wisconsin's family farms. Currently, women manage 750 principal farms, or about 10 percent of Wisconsin's operations. Beitlich expects that number to increase, because consumer demand is attracting women to the business of agriculture.

"We're seeing a big interest in local niche markets. From milking goats and sheep, to making artisan cheese products, today's female farmers possess agricultural opportunities that offer a wide variety of products, from businesses that operate on a much smaller scale."

Beitlich describes "Rural Women's Day" as an occasion to examine the needs of women farmers around the world. She says decisions made here in the United States, including the new U.S. Farm Bill being hammered out in Congress, will have a big impact on farmers in the developing world.

"These women require our support to make sure that their voices are heard, and that those farms are getting sufficient earnings from their agriculture products."

Beitlich adds Wisconsin women farmers should pay close attention to the ongoing U.S. Farm Bill debate and make their wishes known about programs that aid smaller farming ventures. She says small farms can greatly benefit Wisconsin's rural economy.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WI