SILVERTON, OR -- The second in command of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was in Oregon last week to talk to female farmers and ranchers. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden has traveled the country to learn about the opportunities and challenges women face in agriculture.
In Oregon, she heard mostly of successes. "You are so lucky that you have the richness and tradition in this state that it's almost taken for granted. I think it's so rewarding."
"It's about valuing their contributions and the role that they have played - whether it's bookkeeping or marketing or buying insurance or doing the leasing or driving the combine or planting or buying the seed. Whatever it might be, it's a vital part of that operation," Harden said.
The tour has also been an opportunity for the women to network with each other and encourage the next generation to get involved in farming. "It's about having a venue, an opportunity for women to just spend some time together, talking about issues they care about. Sometimes they are life balance issues. It's about how to encourage their daughters and nieces and granddaughters to get involved in agriculture." Harden was impressed to learn that one out of five principal farm operators in Oregon are women compared to one in fifty in her home state of Georgia.
Last week's panel discussion was moderated by Katy Coba, the Oregon Department of Agriculture's first female director.