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Organic Consumers Association

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Ag Census: Female Farmers Are Coming Into Their Own—and Networking is Key to Their Success

New data shows more than a third of all U.S. producers are women, and many are supporting each other through in-person connections.

On a recent March morning following a rainstorm, Wisconsin farmers woke up to find their farms covered in sheets of ice. Cattle rancher Sylvia Burgos Toftness was soon out in the thick of it, tending fences; the grass-fed, certified organic cows on her 72-acre ranch, Bull Brook Keep, weren’t going to wait for the sun to melt the ice.

When you’re a woman committed to managed grazing—which involves rotating cattle around to a different paddock or section of pasture every day or two—getting up in the morning to move fences and cattle is part of the job. But for Toftness, a Baby Boomer who bought her ranch in 2009, learning how to do that job may have been impossible without the help, support, and education of other farmers—especially other women farmers.

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