American Agri-Women to Meet Today

Federal Land Policies Will Be Discussed

News Release

Today, the American Agri-Women (AAW) is hosting its 26th annual symposium in Washington, D.C., starting at 9 a.m. with the focus on private and public land use agreements.

“Federal Land Policies: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” will be held at the Department of Interior’s Sidney Yates Auditorium, 1849 C Street NW, and is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. The program may be viewed at https://americanagriwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Symposium-Schedule.pdf.

The symposium is hosted each year by AAW’s Presidents’ Council, which is made up of the organization’s previous presidents. This year’s symposium will bring together prominent land use specialists and the Department of Interior’s directors for an open discussion.

The event’s keynote speaker is Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises representatives from more than two dozen non-profit organizations based in the United States and abroad that challenge global warming alarmism and opposes energy rationing policies.

Other featured panelists include Brenda BurmanCommissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation; Harriet Hageman, Hageman Law P.C. in Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Dr. Andrea Travnicek, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Wildlife and Parks. A Department of Interior “Welcome” will be given my Susan Combs, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks and lead for DOI Reorganization.

BASF’s Goal: Focusing More on Women in Management

California Already Leading the Way for Female Leadership

By Laurie Greene, Editor 

10649968_10153846041225917_19149239274422827_n

Earlier this year, BASF — the world’s largest chemical company  came out with a commitment by 2021 to represent women in management in equal proportion to the percentage of women in the company worldwide.  Amber Shirley,  district manager in BASF’s Sierra District, which includes California and Arizona, said, “We’re seeking by that time to have 22-24% women in management.”

“BASF is committed to doing that by bringing women through the organization at all levels,” said Shirley. “One of the exciting things is, here in California, we have three women on the management team of our agricultural products division, which is really leading the entire country in the number of women in management.”

Shirley elaborated, “Women on the BASF team in California can be found all the way up from our technical area, to our field rep level, as well as our district manager, which is the role I have.”

BASF recognizes that in order to really be innovative and bring new ideas to the marketplace, they have to bring diversity throughout their organization. “One way of doing that is to bring different perspectives, different areas of thought into our organization. Women certainly bring a new area of thought into an arena that has typically been very male-dominated, like agriculture,” she said.

Young Women Changing the Face of California Farming

On most mornings, Katie Fyhrie, 25 and Emma Torbert, 35 meet at dawn at their Davis fruit farm.

As they scramble up ladders to pluck fruit and later sort it into delivery bins, they embody a demographic shift underway in agriculture: young, beginning farmers, many of them women, are entering the field at an increasing rate.

So far, the influx hasn’t been enough to offset the demographics of existing farmers, who are mostly older men. The median age of American farmers is 59, according to the last U.S. Department of Agriculture census in 2012.

But times are changing. The 2012 USDA census found that the number of new farmers between the ages of 25 and 34 had grown 11 percent since the previous census was taken in 2007.

The number of women farming in California has steadily increased over the past three decades. The 1978 USDA census counted 6,202 women who listed farming as their main occupation. By 2012, there were 13,984.

These new farmers are embracing different delivery methods that don’t involve bulk commodity sales to food processing companies. They’re peddling produce directly to consumers through farmers’ markets, farm stands and subscriptions for produce boxes. Those sales methods increased 8 percent from 2007.

Fyhrie and Torbert sell their peaches and other organic fruit directly to subscribers in Davis and also to stores such as the the Bi-Rite market in San Francisco’s Mission district.

Neither woman comes from a farm family, and neither inherited land. Both are college educated and found their way to farming from other pursuits. Torbert holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Princeton University, and Fyhrie recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in biology.

Both are crazy about farming.

Upon graduation from UC Berkeley in 2012, Fyhrie returned home to Davis. “I didn’t want to jump into working in a lab,” she said.

Instead, Fyhrie took a job as a summer field worker at the Impossible Acres Farm in Davis. “I’ve always enjoyed jobs that kept me outside most of the time,” she said.

Fyhrie deepened her commitment to agriculture in February, when she enrolled in the California Farm Academy, a program run by the Center for Land Based Learning in Winters.

Twenty hopeful farmers are currently enrolled in the seven-month program, 14 of them women, said Jennifer Taylor director of the academy.

“Women getting into agriculture is a huge trend,” said Taylor, who herself began farming several years ago in a Wisconsin dairy operation. “In years past it was a very male-dominated profession.”

Taylor said the gender shift may be a result of societal changes.

“The idea that one can actually be a farmer without coming from a farming family is starting to feel like a reality to more people,” Taylor said.

One aspect that is appealing to women is how farming adds a sense of service to a community. “Some want to feed people, others want to see food justice happen. One way to do that is to be involved in growing food .”

At Princeton, Torbert studied fusion energy. However, it dawned on her that physics is not the kind of work where the tangible effects of one’s work is readily evident.

“I feel there are so many problems in the world that need to be changed sooner,” she said. “In my other jobs it felt like I was just monitoring. As a farmer, I feel like what I do can have an effect on the system.”

Torbert changed gears and pursued a graduate degree in horticulture at UC Davis. Fyhrie is following in her footsteps once she graduates from the farm academy program.

Torbert started her Cloverleaf farm four years ago when she leased 5 acres from Rich Collins, owner of the 200-acre Collins Farm.

Cloverleaf farm recently earned its organic certification, and is just now starting to show a profit, she said.

“Sometimes I feel less supported and find that there is more skepticism from older-generation farmers,” Torbert said. “People make assumptions that you do not know how to drive a tractor.”

Not all beginning farmers are under 35, said Michelle Stephens farmbudsman with Yolo and Solano counties. A lot of the women who she helps with farm permits are new farmers in the 40-year-old range.

“It’s less their full time business and more of an augmentation to what they are already doing,” said Stephens. “So, maybe they have some chickens and they decide they want to sell eggs.”

Some women entering the field hail from longtime farming families, like Kristy Levings, who co-owns Chowdown Farms, a livestock operation in the Capay Valley.

Levings, who is 35, defines herself as a third-generation farmer. At age 11, she was already in charge of a commercial sheep flock. But she has not handed the reins of her farm. She had to leave him and come back to the farming world by way of the big city.

“It was not a given that I would engage in farming,” said Levings, whose only sibling is a younger sister. Bias against females taking over a farm was a factor.

“If you grow up in a farming family, there are different expectations on you based on gender,” Levings said. “If you don’t grow up in a farming family, it is easier to think about farming without a gender filter.”

She left the farm after high school to pursue a degree in psychology and gerontology at San Francisco State University. After graduating she entered a career in social services.

When her mother grew sick in 2007, Levings moved back to the Capay Valley. A year later, an attractive parcel of property came on the market. Levings, then 28, bought it with her farming partner Brian Douglass. They sell lamb and other meat to such well-known local chefs as Randall Selland and Patrick Mulvaney.

Levings said she believes women farmers are bringing new talents to the field.

“Women bring to the table a certain way of thinking about things – from a multitasking perspective,” Levings said. “Like planning strategically.”

She likened farming to conducting a symphony. “There are a lot of moving parts all at once,” she said. “You have to be able to hear when the farm is out of tune.”

She said that with livestock it helps to be able to look at the field and see how the flock is interacting within it and how it interacting with what is growing on it

The only limitation Levings sees to being a woman farmer? Physical power. “I don’t have the same musculature as a male,” Levings said.

For her, that’s nothing more than a momentary drawback. “There’s nothing I cannot do – I’ll just do it in a different way,” Levings said. “If I have to lift something heavy, I’ll figure out how to use a machine instead of trying to muscle it myself.”

Common Threads Award Recognizes Women in Agriculture

Last Thursday, California State University, Fresno hosted The Common Threads Awards Luncheon. Created to honor women in agriculture, this year’s honorees included Juliet Campos, Lorraine Machado, Alice Saviez, RoseAnn Serrano and Helen Sullivan.

“These women don’t expect any kind of recognition, yet they spend countless hours behind the scenes sharing their time, talents and treasures,” said Ag One Assistant Director of Development, Sadie Hemsath. “This type of event encourages younger generations to give back to their community and appreciate the effort that has been portrayed by those before them.”

The Common Threads Award was created in 1997 as a collaboration between Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation and the Ag One Foundation. Nominees of the award demonstrate strong involvement in the agriculture industry and have made a difference in their community based on their volunteer work and philanthropic contributions.

Proceeds of the event support the Ag One Foundation, the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Fresno State’s Jordan College of Ag and charities of the honoree’s choice. This year, Catholic Charities, Children’s Hospital Central California, the Ag One Foundation, Hinds Hospice and Burris Park Foundation will receive donations from Common Threads.

Every year, individuals can nominate women from the Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties for the Common Threads award. In a time where agriculture literacy is amongst the utmost importance, the work of women in agriculture is imperative and appreciated.

“These five women, and the past honorees, have spent a lifetime giving back to their communities and concerning themselves with the welfare of everyone else,” said Hemsath. “It is such a joy to take a moment and recognize them and their hard work.”

United Fresh to Honor Outstanding Women in the Produce Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – United Fresh Produce Association is now accepting nominations to help select an honoree to speak at the annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce, Thursday, June 12 at the United Fresh 2014 convention in Chicago.

Each year, United Fresh recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry and honors one outstanding female industry leader at this reception.

“This event is a great time to celebrate the contributions so many women make to the produce industry,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel.  “Each year, we have the opportunity to be inspired by the personal career paths of different leaders who serve as role models to us all, men and women alike.”

“It was an amazing experience to be awarded this honor last year,” said Lisa McNeece, 2013 Women in Produce Honoree and vice president of foodservice and industrial sales for Grimmway Enterprises Inc. “I encourage the produce industry to participate in the nomination process and recognize the many outstanding women who contribute to our industry.”

Nomination forms may be downloaded online at http://www.unitedfreshshow.org/WIP and must be received by Thursday, March 27.

Past Women in Produce Honorees include:

  • Tonya Antle, Tanimura & Antle
  • Frieda Rapoport Caplan, Frieda’s Inc.
  • Margaret D’Arrigo, Taylor Farms, Inc.
  • Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission
  • Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Company
  • Lisa McNeece, Grimmway Farms
  • Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission
  • Heather Shavey, Costco Wholesale
  • Rosemary Talley, Talley Farms

For more information on the Reception Honoring Women in Produce, please contact United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416 or atiwari@unitedfresh.org or visit the United Fresh 2014 website.

Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association serves companies at the forefront of the global fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. 

United Fresh and its members work year-round to make a difference for the produce industry by driving policies that increase consumption of fresh produce, shaping critical legislative and regulatory action, providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety, quality assurance, nutrition and health, and developing educational programs and business opportunities to assist member companies in growing successful businesses.

Valley Women to be honored at Common Threads Awards Program

Five women have been selected as the 2014 honorees for the Common Threads Award, which recognizes women from the San Joaquin Valley for their agricultural, philanthropic and community service.

The Common Threads Award recipients for 2014 are Juliet Campos, Caruthers;  Lorraine Machado, Merced; Alice Saviez, Fresno; RoseAnn Serrano, Le Grand; and Helen Sullivan, Hanford.

These five Valley women have strong agricultural backgrounds and are active participants in their communities through philanthropic endeavors and community service.

The honorees will be recognized at a special luncheon on Thursday, March 27 at the University Courtyard Dining Hall at California State University, Fresno.

Common ThreadsThe 18th Annual Common Threads luncheon will begin at 11:00 a.m. and will feature award-winning Fresno State wines, a raffle and the Common Threads Award presentation.

Tickets are $40 per person if purchased by March 20; $50 per person after March 20. Space is limited.

Net proceeds raised from the luncheon support the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (Ag Leadership), Ag One Foundation and charities of the honorees’ choice.