Women farmers met Saturday in a dozen cities in the Northwest to share strategies for managing their land in a conference organized by the Washington State University extension service.
WSU used Google hangout to help dairy farmers, beekeepers, and CSA managers across the region connect.
According to the latest census data, women make up about 20 percent of farm operators in Oregon and Washington and just 12 percent in Idaho, and their numbers have fallen since the 2007 census.
Lorrie Conway grew up on a farm, and runs a small goat dairy outside of Camus Washington. She sells grade A certified raw milk and goat cheese. “I milk about 20 does by hand. Everybody comes in at the same time every morning to the same space. They’re very well trained ladies,” she said.
Conway says she’s excited to see women playing a more visible on farms. But it can hard to buck the expectation that it’s your husband who’s actually the farmer.”Boy, I’ll tell you I really get my back up when somebody calls on the farm phone and says, I need to speak to your husband, ma’am,” she says.
The Washington State University Extension service says it wants to help women farmers network and build financial management skills as their role in the farming community shifts.