Gentlemen, it’s 2021. Stop assuming women don’t work on the farm.
I remember my mom facing this when I was growing up. Farmers would stop at our roadside stand and ask to talk to my dad about selling their extra produce. My mom ran our farm market. She was there before we opened and after we closed. Then she went home and picked produce to sell the next day.
When I was a teenager, a campaign manager for a local politician only wanted my dad to sign an endorsement letter. “We’re just looking for the guys to sign this.” My mom served on the county Farm Bureau board. She supported that candidate and voted for his endorsement. And he almost lost the county’s support over this. The incident happened in front of a younger me. So mom made the candidate call me, apologize, and discuss the role women have in politics.
And recently someone involved with federal farm programming (and who definitely should’ve known better!) questioned whether mom was involved enough on the farm to be considered an operator. (Let’s just say our government employee should be thankful he didn’t say that to her face.)
Enough is enough. It is never acceptable for someone to make this assumption. Women are farmers, too.
In reality, farm wives have never just been wives. They’ve always contributed and worked on the farm, even though the jobs they do may look different. My mom doesn’t service tractors, but she does the books. She doesn’t drive the combine, but she runs the grain cart. She doesn’t do the spraying, but she travels with the nurse tank. Her efforts shouldn’t be minimized or go unnoticed because she’s a woman.
That’s not all she does either. But I shouldn’t have to list her daily tasks to justify her role on the farm. She’s a farmer. Period. End of story.
My parents have always farmed together. They’re business partners. And if you’re not sure whether that’s the case, assume it is until you know it’s not. These assumptions weren’t okay when I was growing up, and they’re definitely not okay now.