Women ‘backbone of agriculture’

  • assuming all genetic relationships equal good working relationships
  • believing the business can financially support all family members who want to join
  • assuming others must change but not me
  • presuming a conversation is a contract
  • believing mind reading is an acceptable form of communication
  • failing to build communication skills and meeting tools when times are good
  • ignoring in-laws and off-farm family members
  • forgetting to use common courtesy
  • having no legal and discussed estate, management and ownership transfer plan
  • neglecting vital facts of fair and equal, failing to celebrate together

CALGARY — Young mothers rocking weeks old infants were among those listening to Krysta Harden speak about how times have changed.

It brought a smile to the face of the vice-president of public policy for DuPont.

“How nice to come to a meeting where babies are welcome,” Harden said during the Advancing Women in Agriculture conference March 6 in Calgary.

Harden said women’s involvement in agriculture is nothing new.

“What is new is how we value women’s contributions,” she said.

Harden said women for so long have been described as farmers’ wives, when in reality they were as much decision-makers in the operation as their husbands.

“In any other business, they’d be called CFO (chief financial officer), and we call them farm wife. It does not define the role so many women play on the farm,” she said.

And yet agricultural companies still largely depict male farmers in their marketing campaigns.

She encouraged women to support, promote and make room for one another as they rise through careers in agriculture and trade associations, and also consider the plight of women elsewhere in the world.

“In some countries, if the husband dies, the farm goes to the husband’s family,” said Harden.

“Developed countries have a responsibility to them,” she said.

Harden said women bring a different perspective than men, something that must heard throughout the industry, both in the office and field and through the value chain.

“Add your voice to it so the way you make decisions is considered,” said Harden.

Think about adding your chair to the table instead of pushing another woman off of it, she said.

“Women are the backbone of agriculture. There are places to go and people waiting for us to get there.”

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