salutes Illinois women farmers
Agriculture Day to be observed Friday
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[March 18, 2009]
SPRINGFIELD -- On Friday,
National Agriculture Day, as the
United States reflects upon its agricultural roots, the Illinois
Department of Agriculture will recognize the growing influence of
women farmers in one of the nation's most influential farm states.
According to the recently released Census of Agriculture, the number
of women farmers in Illinois has increased 29 percent the past five
years, from 19,340 in 2002 to 25,593 in 2007. Nearly a fourth of the
state's farm operators now are women.
"Illinois is still very much
an agrarian state, but the census clearly indicates the face of
modern agriculture is changing," Agriculture Director Tom Jennings
said. "Women historically have played important roles on the farm,
but today, more than ever before, they're likely to be making key
The number of principal farm operators who are female has risen
to 7,664, up from 5,253 just five years ago. Simply stated, the 46
percent increase means women now run one of every 10 Illinois farms.
"The membership of Illinois Agri-Women traditionally has included
partners and proprietors in grain and traditional livestock farms,"
said Cheryl Day, immediate past president of Illinois Agri-Women.
"However, in recent years we've added members who raise horses or
fresh produce for farmers markets. We've also welcomed new members
because they inherited farming responsibilities from a deceased
spouse and want to interact with other farm women and women in
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The census reveals that for 95 percent of women-operated farms, the
operators own their own land. While the vast majority of them are
small, 320 consist of 500 acres or more, and 960 reported sales of
at least $50,000.
The census also reveals women run diverse farm operations. Many
grow crops, but significant numbers raise livestock, including beef
cattle, hogs, goats, sheep and chickens. Collectively, the market
value of the agricultural products the women sold totaled about $286
Illinois Department of
Agriculture file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]