INDIANAPOLIS — March is National Women’s History Month throughout the United States. The annual observance started as a weeklong event in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter and was lengthened to the entire month of March starting in 1987.
Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, which is observed March 8, offer the chance to honor the contributions of women and their ongoing impact on American society and the world.
In Indiana, this includes the continued contributions of female landowners and producers to agriculture throughout the state.
According to the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2017 Farm Census, there are more than 18,000 women serving as the principal producer on farms and more than 31,000 female farmers total throughout Indiana. In all, they combine to own and operate more than 3 million acres of farmland in the state.
“Indiana is blessed to have a large number of female producers and landowners,” said the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services’ (NRCS) Indiana State Conservationist Jerry Raynor. “Whether they operate a large turkey farm or a small community garden, March offers us the chance to highlight the impact they continue to have throughout the state and the role they play in putting conservation practices on the land. This month also offers us the chance to highlight the many phenomenal women who work for Indiana NRCS and with landowners on a daily basis to make a lasting impact.”
One of the major ways Indiana NRCS is working to help female farmers is through a cooperative partnership with the Indiana Conservation Partnership called Women4theLand, which empowers women to make good science-based land use and management decisions that lead to more viable communities and stronger farm enterprises.
Women4theLand is inspired by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s Women Caring for the Land program and includes women-only learning circles designed to break down gender gaps and expand women landowners’ knowledge and confidence. The learning circles provide information in a comfortable, informal setting where a small group of women learn from professional conservationists as well as from each other. Between 2013 and 2020, Woman4theLand facilitated 92 learning circles in Indiana with more than 1,600 women participating.
Please join us throughout March as we honor the impact women have in farming and our ongoing mission to helping people to help the land. To learn more about Women’s History Month visit https://womenshistorymonth.gov/. To learn more about Women4TheLand and how you can attend a learning circle visit https://www.women4theland.org/.
— Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service
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