Women in Agriculture

Women In Ag Facts

U.S. Women in Agriculture Statistics:

According to the 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture, there were 985,192 women operators running American farms and ranches. Thirty-one percent of these women classified themselves as principal operators, working with 64,264,566 acres. U.S. female operators were an average of 54.0 years of age, with female principal operators being an average of 58.89 year of age.

The 2007 Census of Agriculture for West Virginia reported there were 10,013 female operators. Of these, 32% classified themselves as principal operators working 378,591 acres on 3, 219 farms. While this is only 10% of the total land in farms in West Virginia, the percentage of farmland worked by women as principal operators has increased 31% from data reported in the 2002 Census of Agriculture. The average age of West Virginia’s female operators was identical to that of all U.S. female operators and female principal operators (see above). Of particular note, the average age of female operators in West Virginia has increased by two years since the 2002 U.S. Census of Agriculture.

Since the number of female agricultural operators is increasing in West Virginia and the U.S., Annie’s Project plays a vital and needed role in assisting these women with operating a successful agricultural enterprise. Also, with statistics showing that the average age of our principal female operators is increasing, it becomes more important to recruit and educate younger women about operating an agricultural enterprise. Now, more than ever, Annie’s Project will play an important role in the sustainability of U.S. farms and producing agricultural products to feed the world.

U.S. Census of Ag Definitions:

  • Operator – The term operator designates a person who operates a farm, either doing the work or making day-to-day decisions about such things as planting, harvesting, feeding, and marketing. The operator may be the owner, a member of the owner’s household, a hired manager, a tenant, a renter, or a sharecropper. If a person rents land to others or has land worked on shares by others, he/she is considered the operator only of the land which is retained for his/her own operation. The census collected information on the total number of operators, the total number of women operators, and demographic information for up to three operators per farm.
  • Operators, number – Demographic and other information were collected for up to three operators per farm – the principal operator plus up to two additional operators. This may be fewer than the total operators on some farms. Demographic data for up to three operators reported are presented separately for women, by race categories, and for Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino origin.
  • Operators, total – The data represent the total reported number of operators for the operation.
  • Operators, total women – The data represent the total number of women operators reported for the operation.
  • Principal Operator – The person primarily responsible for the on-site, day-to-day operation of the farm or ranch business. This person may be a hired manager or business manager. See Operators for further explanation.

For a complete explanation of terms, read Appendix B. General Explanation and Census of Agriculture Report Form