Women farmers in Wisconsin 2011 final


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This research brief, "Wisconsin Women Farmers: Conservation Practices, Information Gathering, and Opportunities for UW-Extension" details the results of research on women farm operators in Wisconsin. The goal of the project was to increase the effectiveness of outreach strategies to serve the growing number of women farm operators in Wisconsin.

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Women farmers in Wisconsin 2011 final

  1. 1. Sharon Lezberg and Astrid Newenhouse Environmental Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison 445 Henry Mall, Rm. 202A, Madison, WI 53706-1577 www.uwex.edu/erc/sustainableag Briefing 2 Wisconsin Women Farmers: Conservation Practices, Information Gathering, and Opportunities for UW-Extension 1 Research Brief #1: Hispanic Farmers in Wisconsin: Background and Information Needs. University of Wisconsin-Madison: Environmental Resources Center. 05/2011 Introduction: Highlighted in this publication is part of a larger project“Effective Outreach for a New Wisconsin Agriculture: A Social Marketing Approach to the Environmental Management Needs of Hispanic and Women Farmers.” The research was funded by the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Grant program and conducted by staff at the Environmental Resources Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with outreach support from the Wisconsin Farm Center, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. This report is the second in a two-part series.1 KristinKordetSharonLezbergJenniferBlazek
  2. 2. 2 The goal of this project is to increase the effective- ness of outreach strategies to serve the growing number of women farm principal operators in Wisconsin.2 We targeted our research activities on women principal operators in two sectors: direct marketing and dairy. Three research objectives guided our research: ! gain a better understanding ofWisconsin’s women farm operators; @ learn about constraints, resource and information needs, and environmental management practices of these farmers; and # identify ways in which the University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX) and other farm support organizations and institutions can better serve women farmers. We used several methods to accomplish these objectives: ! Mailed 601 surveys to women farmers (373 responses, 62% response rate) who reported in the 2002 or 2007 agricultural Objectives and Methods –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– censuses that they were women, the principal farm operator, and marketing their product through direct marketing,3 @ Mailed 755 surveys to women dairy farmers who reported in the 2002 or 2007 agricultural censuses that they were women, the principal farm operator, and operating a dairy farm. The survey population included both women who raise dairy cows and those who raise dairy sheep and goats.4 # Conducted preliminary interviews with 12 women farmers in the direct market sector;5 $ Conducted eight in-depth interviews with women in the direct market sector; % Conducted nine in-depth interviews with women in the dairy sector; ^ Held a discussion session, attended by over 40 direct market farmers;6 & Held three focus groups of six to eight women dairy farmers. 2 The United States Census of Agriculture (2002) defines the“principal operator”as“The person primarily responsible for the on-site, day-to-day operation of the farm or ranch business. This person may be a hired manager or business manager.”Our study defined principal operator as those women who farm solo or with a spouse or partner, but who make or help make the main decisions about how the farm is managed. 3 The United States Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years by the Department of Agriculture. Census data for Wisconsin are collected and analyzed by the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service (WASS). For our research, we used the mailing lists compiled from the WASS database for the 2002 and 2007 censuses of Agriculture. We sent out 601 surveys to Wisconsin women farmers in the direct market sector from January - February 2009. Of these, 373 complete surveys were returned (62% response rate). We used a modified Dillman survey technique, where each potential respondent received 4 contacts from us (preliminary letter, first survey with letter, reminder postcard, and second survey with letter). 4 Of the 755 surveys that were returned, 335 surveys were completed (43% response rate). Many more were returned incomplete, with“not a woman dairy farmer”checked. We think the high rate of incomplete surveys was due to both (1) incorrect lists, and (2) the inclusion of a small number of dairy sheep and goat farmers in the survey population, combined with our characterization of the survey. The survey was titled“Survey of Women Dairy Farmers in Wisconsin”: dairy and goat farmers may have thought that this was meant to include only dairy cow operations. On analysis, we found that the dairy sheep and goat farmers were different in many characteristics from the dairy cow farmers, so we separated out these farmers. Beyond this group, we eliminated a further 51 surveys as invalid. The analysis for this report is based on survey responses from 211 women dairy cow farm operators. 5 Preliminary interviews were conducted at two conference settings: the Midwest Value Added Farming Conference, Jan. 24-25, 2008, Eau Claire, WI and the Midwest Organic Farming Conference, Feb. 21-23, 2008, La Crosse, WI. These interviews were meant to get a sense of what issues were regarded as important to women farmers, and to refine survey and interview tools for more in-depth analysis. 6 The discussion was a modified focus group, billed as a‘conversation circle for women farmers,’held at the Organic Farming Conference held in La Crosse, Wisconsin in February 2009. 7 Roth, C. J. and C. Lachenmayer, 2006.“Women Farmers in Value-Added Agriculture”In Status of Wisconsin Agriculture, 2006, 42-47. University of Wisconsin-Madison: Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. 8 Vogt, J., D. Jackson-Smith, M. Ostrom, S. Lezberg, 2001.“The Roles of Women on Wisconsin Dairy Farms at the Turn of the 21st Century,”PATS Research Report No. 10. University of Wisconsin-Madison: Program on Agricultural Technology Studies. 9 In Wisconsin (2007), 6% of women principal operators are in the dairy sector (555 farms, out of 9,176 total), versus 1% for the rest of the country (3,363 farms, out of 306, 209 total (Census of Agriculture, 2007).
  3. 3. 3 The Census of Agriculture shows a 58% increase in the number of women principal operators in Wisconsin over the 10 year period from 1997 to 2007 – from 5,793 in 1997 to 9,176 in 2007. Our research focused on two groups of women farmers: those in the direct market sector, and those in the dairy sector. We targeted the direct market sector because of the prevalence of women farm operators in that sector. Research from the University ofWisconsin’s Program on AgriculturalTechnology Studies (PATS) found that while the number of women operating agricultural businesses has increased across all sectors of agriculture, women are more broadly represented as primary decision makers in the direct market sector (Roth & Lachenmayer, 2006).7 We targeted the dairy sector because of its importance and predominance in Wisconsin. Previous research from PATS (Vogt, et.al., 2001)8 documented the important role women play on dairy farms, but did not specifically address the views of women principal operators in the sector.9 How Many Women Farmers are there in Wisconsin? Figure 1 Most women (72%) who operate non-dairy direct market farms in Wisconsin farm fewer than 100 acres. Figure 1 shows the products raised by women direct market farmers. Respondents identified all products grown or raised on the farm.The most frequently mentioned products raised were vegetables (40%), poultry and eggs (35%), beef (31%) and tree fruit (30%). Also mentioned were berries, sheep and goats, greenhouse production, row crops, pigs and several minor crops. When asked to choose the best category to describe their operation, less than half (37%) of the women described their farm as conventional, and the remainder described their farms as non-certified organic (30%), certified organic (6%), sustainable (16%), transitional organic (3%), biodynamic (1%), or other. Of our respondents, 65% described themselves as the primary farm operator; another 33% were equal partners in a jointly managed farm. Over half of our respondents worked off farm full-time (30%) or part-time or seasonally (25%). Spouses who worked off-farm were more likely to work full-time (45%) than part-time (8%). Characteristics of Women Direct Market Farmers 40%  35%  31%  30%  29%  26%  24%  17%  0%  5%  10%  15%  20%  25%  30%  35%  40%  45%  Vegetable and  melon  Poultry & Eggs  Beef CaAle  Tree Fruit  Berries  Sheep or goat  Greenhouse,  nursery, flowers  Row crops  Percdent of Respondents  Products Raised on Direct Market Farms  WI Women Direct Market Farmers  Products Raised on Direct Market Farms WI Women Direct Market Farmers Survey Results ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
  4. 4. 4 The average woman dairy farmer inWisconsin owns 188 acres and rents 75 acres, with the farm size ranging from 1-1,100 acres. Herd size averages 87 cows and ranges from 1-3,450 cows. When asked to choose the best category to describe their operation, most of the women dairy farmers described their operations as conventional (59%), with an additional 14% describing their farm as a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). The remainder described their operations as rotational grazing (17%), certified organic (3%), and non-certified or transitional organic (3%) (Figure 2 - totals do not add up to 100% due to rounding). Dairy farm women work off farm less than direct market women farmers, with respondents reporting that they work off farm full-time (12%) or part-time/seasonally (12%). Spouses of dairy farm women are also less likely to work off farm (23% full time, 8% part time) than spouses of women direct market farmers. Characteristics of Women Dairy Farmers Many women farm operators use conservation management planning.Women dairy farmers have a higher rate of use of conservation planning than do women direct market farmers. This finding is not unexpected, as dairy farm operators manage larger farms, grow row crops, and typically have animals on farm (Table 1). Women Farmers and Their Conservation Practices Table 1 14%  59%  17%  3%  3%  5%  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  70%  CAFO  Conven4onal  Rota4onal Grazing  System  Cer4fied Organic  Non‐cer4fied organic  Other  Type of Dairy Farm Produc2on System  WI Women Dairy Farmers  Planning Practice WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers Soil and water conservation plan 42% 58% Manure management plan 37% 59% Nutrient and pesticide management plan 41% 51% None of above 26% 21% Figure 2 Type of Dairy Farm Production System WI Women Dairy Farmers Figure 3 shows the use of crop management practices for both groups of women farmers. Women dairy farm operators are more inclined to use many of the conservation and land management practices mentioned in the survey questions. Again, this is an expected finding, as their farms are larger in size and many dairy farmers raise row crops for feed.
  5. 5. 5 63%  55%  44%  44%  39%  39%  36%  35%  22%  13%  50%  73%  32%  32%  40%  46%  49%  63%  44%  19%  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  70%  80%  Wildlife, Insect  Habitat Areas  Cover Crops  Shelterbelts,  Windbreaks  Woodland  Management  Integrated Pest  Mgmt  Riparian Buffers  or Grassed  Waterways  No‐Rll  ConservaRon  Tillage  Contour  Farming,Strip  Cropping  Terracing for  Erosion  Percent of respondents using on farm  Conserva)on and Land Management Prac)ces:   Which of the following do you use on your farm?   WI Women Direct Market Farmers  WI Women Dairy Farmers  Figure 3 Participation in government conservation programs (Figure 4) varies greatly between women direct market farmers and women dairy farmers. More women dairy farmers than women direct market farmers participate in government conservation programs. At least 42% of women direct market farmers reported that they are notawareofvariousoftheconservationprograms–withtheexceptionoftheConservationReserveProgram (CRP). With respect to the CRP and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), 46% of women direct market farmers reported that these programs do not fit their farms. Similarly, women dairy farmers reported that they are not aware of the Conservation Security Program (CSP, 44% unaware), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP, 36% unaware), and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP, 31% unaware), and that the CRP and CREP programs do not fit their farm (40%). Conservation and Land Management Practices: Which of the Following do you use on your farm? WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers Figure 4 Government Program Participation WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers 16%  13%  11%  5%  5%  29%  23%  36%  8%  7%  0%  5%  10%  15%  20%  25%  30%  35%  40%  Conserva5on Reserve Program (CRP)  or Conserva5on Reserve  Enhancement Program (CREP)  Environmental Quality Incen5ves  Program (EQIP)              Wisconsin Farmland Preserva5on  Program (FPP)                  Conserva5on Security Program (CSP)  Wildlife Habitat Incen5ves Program  (WHIP)       Percent Par)cipa)on  Government Program Par)cipa)on  WI Women Direct Market Farmers  WI Women Dairy Farmers 
  6. 6. 6 Women farmers get their information from a wide variety of sources (Figures 5-6). By far the most important waytogetfarminginformationisthroughfarmer-to-farmerexchange,suchasaconversationwithneighbors, at a workshop, or on a listserv. Women dairy farmers value the information they get from family members, other farmers, and farm magazines and newspapers. Women dairy farmers are more likely to consult farm suppliers and equipment dealers, the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and bankers than are women direct market farmers. Only 36% of women direct market farmers we surveyed, and 31% of the women dairy farmers, consulted UW Extension. A vast majority of women direct market farmers considered the internet to be a “somewhat important” or “very important”source of information (77%), in contrast to 58% of women dairy farmers. Both groups of farmers described it as being difficult to navigate and sometimes overwhelming. The University of Wisconsin-Extension website and the WI Department of Agriculture website were described as being more difficult to find and use than sites from other universities or from private industry. Where do Wisconsin Women Farmers get Information about Farming? 83%  57%  36%  26%  21%  20%  19%  74%  75%  31%  14%  54%  22%  40%  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  70%  80%  90%  Other Farmers  Farm supply  dealers  Extension  Growers Assn  Bankers  WI Dept of Ag.  County Land  Office   Sources of Informa.on consulted in the last year  WI Women Direct Market Farmers  WI Women Dairy Farmers Figure 5 Sources of Information Consulted in the Last Year WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers We asked survey respondents if they wanted information or training on various topics.We supplied a list and asked respondents for a“yes”or“no”response for each topic. Figure 6 details the information needs of women farmers. Of note is that women direct market farmers reported a desire for information or training to a greater extent than did women dairy farmers. What Information do Women Farmers Seek? The issues that concern women farmers are health care, farm profitability, work and life balance including taking care of family members, and farm energy use. Direct market farmers are concerned with whole farm management for environmental sustainability, profitability, and lifestyle. They are also concerned with marketing and feasibility planning. Dairy farmers are also concerned with herd health and farm succession. Issues of concern to women farmers are further detailed in Figures 7-10. Issues That Concern Women Farmers
  7. 7. 7 65%  47%  41%  31%  28%  23%  21%  10%  7%  53%  62%  25%  21%  45%  23%  22%  22%  18%  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  70%  Other farmers Family members Internet Conference or workshop Farm magazine, newspaper Extension publications Field days & demonstrations Equipment dealer Radio,TV Percent of Respondents  "Very Important" Sources of Informa3on  WI Women Direct Market Farmers  WI Women Dairy Farmers  Figure 6 “Very Important”Sources of Information WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers Figure 7 What Information or Training do Women Farmers want? WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers 53%  50%  49%  43%  38%  37%  29%  28%  45%  27%  29%  26%  29%  28%  33%  28%  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  Govt. Programs  Sustainable/ Organic PracBces  MarkeBng  Environmental  Improvement  Record Keeping  Business  Planning  Animal  Husbandry  Crop ProducBon  Percent of Respondents  What Informa3on or Training do   Women Farmers want?  WI Women Direct Market Farmers  WI Women Dairy Farmers 
  8. 8. 8 37%  28%  27%  24%  21%  19%  15%  55%  26%  32%  34%  25%  24%  22%  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  Health Care   Access to Labor  Quality of Life  Farm Succession  Access to Supplies  Access to Credit  Access to Land  Percent "frequently  or very frequently"  Startup and Opera5ons Issues:   How o;en are these issues a concern?  WI Women Direct Market Farmers  WI Women Dairy Farmers  Figure 8 Startup and Operations Issues: How often are these issues a concern? WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers 71%  46%  43%  33%  18%  68%  21%  31%  24%  15%  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  70%  80%  Farm Profitability       Marke;ng              Feasibility Planning  Record Keeping        Labor Management  Percent "frequently or very frequently"  Business Mgmt Issues:   How o:en are these issues a concern?  WI Women Direct Market Farmers  WI Women Dairy Farmers  Figure 9 Business Management Issues: How often are these issues a concern? WI Women Direct Market Farmers WI Women Dairy Farmers
  9. 9. 9 Figure 10 Production Issues or Practices: How often are these issues a concern? WI Women Direct Market Farmers Figure 11 Production Issues or Practices: How often are these issues a concern? WI Women Dairy Farmers 35%  32%  20%  20%  15%  0%  5%  10%  15%  20%  25%  30%  35%  40%  Animal Health,  Nutri7on  Farm Energy Use  Soil & Water  Conserva7on  Food Product Safety  Manure Management  Percent "frequently or very frequently"  Produc1on Issues or Prac1ces:   How o8en are these issues a concern?  WI Women Dairy Farmers  47%  37%  34%  34%  21%  0%  5%  10%  15%  20%  25%  30%  35%  40%  45%  50%  Farm Energy Use  Soil & Water  Conserva>on  Ecological Health  Food Product Safety  Chemical Fer>lizer and  Pes>cide Use  Percent "frequently or very frequently"  Produc1on Issues or Prac1ces:   How o8en are these issues a concern?  WI Women Direct Market  Farmers 
  10. 10. 10 In focus groups and interviews with women farmers, the most important and frequent challenge brought up by women farmers is being treated with respect as a farmer. Women described being treated as though they were less knowledgeable and less responsible for making decisions than their spouses, sons, or fathers. Women farmers, either solo or in partnership with men, desire to be treated by agency personnel, implement dealers, and suppliers as informed and capable of making decisions.These authors identify the issue of respect as the main issue to be addressedinordertoimprovetheworkenvironment for women farmers. Other challenges that women farmers brought up include: ! not understanding the jargon of government programs and sometimes the technical language of farming or equipment maintenance and repair; @ problems dealing with machinery; # difficulty getting credit or loans; $ challenges maintaining a work and family balance; % finding time and energy to take care of children, parents, and disabled family members; ^ safety of kids on the farm (primarily for dairy farmers). The Role of UW-Extension –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– How do Women Farmers Have Contact with UW-Extension? Several women farmers mentioned contacting Extension for very specific needs such as to borrow a soil probe, become a 4-H leader, attend a workshop, or take a class to write a business plan. Women dairy farmers reported seeing Extension educators at events such as Farm Technology Days Challenges Specific to Being a Woman Farmer ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– and farm organization meetings and events. Women farmers who sought information from Extension expressed frustration that even if their county agent did not know the answer to a question, they wished that their agent would guide them to an expert who could respond to their inquiry. Of note is that a few women farmers from larger farms indicated a close working relationship withExtensioneducatorsaspartofacomprehensive management team. How Can Extension and Other Agencies Improve Outreach to Women Farmers? Reinforce a culture of respect: Extension and other agency staff will improve their work with women farmers if they can reinforce a culture of respect for the farmer as the decision maker and farm manager. Target smaller scale farms and beginning farms: Direct market farm operations range in size and degree of capitalization, with the vast majority of these farms under 100 acres (and many between 3-10 acres). To reach farmers on smaller acreage, Extension staff must adapt educational programming and outreach methods to cater to these farmers and their enterprises. Educational programming focused on issues of value-added marketing, business management, and organic/sustainable production practices will have more appeal to these farmers than more traditionalcropandanimalmanagementeducation. Advertise programs through traditional and newmethods:Toreachwomenfarmers,announce educational opportunities through 4-H, Family Living (nutrition), and across other Extension programs.When trying to reachWisconsin’s women dairy farmers, traditional print media outlets, such as Hoard’s Dairyman and The Country Today, as well as farm radio, are effective. To reach women direct market farmers, we encourage new methods , such as announcing programs through listservs of other organizations to which these women are affiliated, including the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) “Something Special from Wisconsin ”program, non-profit organizations that support community supported agriculture, farmers’
  11. 11. 11 Learning for life  May 2011 USDA NCR-SARE grant LNC07-290 market organizations, the “buy local” movement, andtheMidwestOrganicandSustainableEducation Service (MOSES). Use clear language: When speaking with women farmers or preparing program materials, use clear language without jargon. Support farmer-to-farmer educational programming: Farmers appreciate learning from other farmers. Farmer to farmer exchange supports innovation, cooperation, and encourages a culture of respect. In focus group discussions and interviews, farmers repeatedly stressed that they would like Extension educators to serve as facilitators of farmer information exchange (through activities such as farm walks, farmer networking, new farmer mentoring, and organized tours on diverse farm operations). Farmers have a great deal to teach Extension staff and staff from other agencies, as well. Extension staff can increase their own knowledge and credibility with women farmers by inviting farmers to help teach programs. Assist farmers with information searches by referral: Extension and other agency staff who cannot answer a farmer’s question should be able to refer the farmer to another person or expert who can. Dairy farm women suggested that Extension educators can help farmers who are attempting to solve a problem or redesign features on farm (e.g., install a new milking parlor, work with different bedding materials, improve calf care) by referring them to other farmers in the region who have successfully navigated similar problems or redesign. Improve websites: Websites for Extension and otheragenciesthatservefarmersshouldbereviewed for ease of use. Extension publications are difficult to find through search engines; professional web designers should identify ways to improve how Extension documents are retrieved by search engines. Encourage participation in programs for farm women: Although women farmers did not express a common desire for informational programming geared specifically to women, they did express a need to gather and talk with other women farmers to reduce their sense of isolation. There are many successful programs for women farmers in Wisconsin and neighboring states. We encourage Extensionstaffandotheragencystafftomakethese opportunities known to women farmers and to increase their participation. Some of these programs are: Heart of the Farm (UW-Extension), Annie’s Project (UW-Extension), Gathering Circles (WI Rural Women’s Initiative), Connecting Threads Conference (WI Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection WIDATCP), Rural Women’s Project (Midwest Organic Sustainable Educational Service MOSES), Wisconsin Farmers Union Leadership Retreat, and the Iowa-based Women, Food and Agriculture Network. Briefing 2 Wisconsin Women Farmers: Conservation Practices, Information Gathering, and Opportunities for UW - Extension