Dust In My Coffee

Dust In My Coffee

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ag Day: The Women

Today is National Ag Day, a day set apart to celebrate agriculture in our country.  National Ag Day began forty-four years ago as a way to spotlight all the great work farmers and ranchers do to feed and clothe the United States and the world.  I am privileged to be part of  2% of the population, each of us responsible for feeding roughly 168  people in the US and abroad.  I am also privileged to know many farmers and ranchers across the country and in this blog I would like to put the spotlight on women in agriculture.  I will focus on these farm women in three arenas that have impacted me the most.



Ag-Ceptional Women's Committee

Ten years ago I was invited to meet with a group of women from northeast Nebraska to discuss the idea of having a one-day conference for women in agriculture.  Thanks to the vision of Bonnie Schulz our brainstorming session led to a conference that has been filled to capacity for the last eight years.  Our committee has changed but the passion of the women on the committee has not.  We have been dedicated to offering quality key note speakers, educational break out sessions as well as very cool swag gifts for each lady attending.  Each woman on the committee brings unique gifts that I believe have been the key to the success of the conference.  We've spent hours outside of the monthly meeting preparing table decorations, assembling binders, stuffing bags and soliciting sponsors.  We've laughed and cried with one another as weddings are held, babies are born and loved ones that have died are mourned.   We are truly a committee that seeks to educate, motivate and celebrate women in agriculture!


Our Ag-Ceptional Committee of 2015.  I do not know why my mouth
is open so far unless my Ag-Ceptional friend, Karen Grant, just poked me!!

CommonGround

Seven years ago I attended a session to train women in agriculture about having conversations with consumers about how food is raised.   CommonGround volunteers are women in agriculture with a passion for sharing a positive story that is personal, credible and very real.   The beauty of CommonGround is that we are encouraged to share our own story that is based on lived experiences and facts versus rumor and fear.  When I have conversations with consumers I can answer concerns about cattle in the feedlot and using GMO crops.  Other volunteers talk about areas of expertise on their farms that include dairy, pork, poultry and organic farming.  As volunteers we also learn from one another about the work we do to increase our own understanding of how food is raised.  We are blessed with an incredible staff of people that find opportunities for us to engage in conversations with consumers and continually challenge us to grow in our communication skills.   I encourage you to meet the women of CommonGround by visiting the national and/or state websites.   These women in agriculture would love to reach out to you on Ag Day and every day to connect you to their farms via their stories and your questions.   I consider myself very blessed to be a part of the CommonGround family and the impact we are having on helping consumers base their food buying decisions on facts, not fear.

Here are some of my Nebraska CommonGround friends including Hilary
Maricle, Dawn Caldwell, me, Diane Becker, Chandra Horky and Linda
Schwarz.  If you have a passion for agriculture and a desire to connect
with consumers please consider joining us.


Cattleman's Beef Board

Four years ago I was appointed to the Cattleman's Beef Board.  I am one of about one hundred board members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to oversee the collection of $1-per-head on all cattle sold in the U.S. and $1-per-head equivalent on imported cattle, beef and beef products.  Previous to this appointment I had not been involved in leadership at the state or national level for the beef community.  Little did I know that I was about to meet some of the finest women in agriculture.  A rancher from Oklahoma, Terry Wyatt, took me under her wing right away and has continued to be a respected mentor and friend.  A rancher from Florida, Sarah Childs, has given many laughs over her alligator catching stories.  I learned much about co-chairing a meeting by working with rancher Dianne Kirkbride, from Wyoming.   I have watched women like Kim Brackett from Idaho and Anne Anderson from Texas lead the board as dedicated chairwomen.  Anne is especially dear to me because it was she that asked me to consider running for an officer position.  There are many more women that I have met through my time serving on the beef board that I will treasure forever.  These  women all share a love for the beef community, dedication to continuous improvement and sincerity that builds lasting bonds between friends.  

Dianne and I took some time at the convention in San Antonio
to meet the vendors and gain some new product insights
as well as spend time visiting about our families.

 National Ag Day is a great opportunity to focus on what is really good about agriculture in our country.  We have hard working men and women dedicated to raising wholesome food for your family that you can learn more facts about here.  The often unrecognized contributions of women to food and fiber production are changing as more young women seek careers in agriculture.  As a woman in agriculture I salute my fellow ag women on this National Ag Day!


“She sets her mind on a field, then she buys it; with what her hands have earned she plants a vineyard. 

 She puts her back into her work and shows how strong her arms can be.

She knows that her affairs are going well; her lamp does not go out at night.

She sets her hands to the distaff, her fingers grasp the spindle.

She holds out her hands to the poor, she opens her arms to the needy.

She is clothed in strength and dignity, she can laugh at the day to come.

When she opens her mouth, she does so wisely; on her tongue is kindly instruction.

She keeps good watch on the conduct of her household, no bread of idleness for her.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty; the woman fears Yahweh is the one to praise.”
Proverbs 31