'Breaking the grass ceiling': More women taking lead in farming operations
2 Jul 2018
Crow Wing County
MOORHEAD, Minn.—When Melany Thomas goes to sell her beef cattle, potential buyers will sometimes direct their questions to her husband, who quickly sets them straight, according to Thomas.
"She's the one that's raising them, I'm just her farmhand," Thomas said, quoting her husband, Evan, who helps her with the family's grass-fed livestock operation near Fertile.
Women who run farm operations still encounter people surprised to see them in such a role, but that is changing as women increasingly take on more responsibility on farms across the country.
That's according to Noreen Thomas, mother-in-law to Melany Thomas and operator of Doubting Thomas Farms, an organic farm north of Moorhead.
"The trend in the last 20 years has been a 20 percent increase in women farmers," Noreen Thomas said, adding that factors leading to that include farm wives outliving their husbands and daughters who return to the land after going off to school, or having tried their hand at something else before deciding farming is where they want to be.
Noreen Thomas said the next U.S. census is expected to confirm the trend of more women taking the helm of farm operations.