LINCOLN, Neb. – Women in agriculture are business partners, owners and operators; oversee financial and human resources; and keep farms and ranches running. This was the message more than 250 women heard at the 33rd annual Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference Feb. 22 and 23 in Kearney.
The conference is one of the longest-running women’s conferences of its kind in the country. It allows women to build relationships with each other, attend workshops and gain valuable knowledge that will help them in support of their farms and ranches. The theme for this year’s conference was “Growing Our Future, Valuing Our Traditions.”
“You are more than just a farm wife,” Jessica Groskopf, associate extension educator with Nebraska Extension, told participants. “It’s important for you all to know what a vital role you play on your farms and ranches.”
Groskopf said market trends further emphasize this role as tighter budgets could mean making tough decisions affecting families in agriculture.
To help women in agriculture during challenging economic times, the conference featured more than 30 workshops focusing on risk-management topics and tools to help producers make profitable business decisions. Sessions covered risks in production, market, financial, human and legal areas. Training opportunities ranged from how to use Quicken to keep tax and financial records to what legal tools are available in estate planning. There was also a session on ag policy outlook, which highlighted regulatory issues, trade negotiations and the new farm bill due this year.
Patti Griess and her husband, Mike, own a cow-calf operation in Hamilton County, where they also grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Griess considers herself the farm “go-fer,” running errands, moving equipment and supporting her husband wherever needed. While the resources the conference provides are helpful, Griess, like many of the attendees, attended to be part of the community.
“When I first heard about the Women in Ag Conference, I thought it would be fun to be around other farm women,” Griess said. “I’ve talked to elderly ladies that have been on the farm their whole lives and young brides that have grown up in the city and now they’re out working on the farm. It’s a really fun time.”
Three women who play important roles in this community were at the conference to inspire and uplift the group. Ruth Hambleton, founder of Annie’s Project, spoke on empowering and educating women producers. Annie’s Project is an educational program dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise. Leslie McCuiston, senior territory manager for Pharmgate Animal Health, spoke about investing in and developing people. Ann Finkner, senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Farm Credit Services of America, shared tips for helping women recharge while dealing with complexity, stress and multitasking in agriculture.
“To truly live a life of purpose, welcome the full experience of life,” Finkner said. “Welcome fear and conquer it, as well as all of the joy and excitement it can bring you.”
The 2019 Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference is scheduled for Feb. 21-22, 2019.
The conference is hosted by Nebraska Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.