Women do not dominate the agriculture industry in the U.S.—which makes sense, seeing that farming has long been considered a man’s occupation. That being said, nearly a third of our nation’s farmers are women, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
But women only run 14% of farms, according to that same census. The map above shows the percent of farms in each US county where women are the “principal operators”—meaning, they run the day-to-day operations on the farm.
Two thirds (67%) of “secondary operators” are women, of whom 90% are the spouse of the principal farm operator.
In the U.S. Agriculture Department’s 2007 Census of Agriculture report, the government found women farm operators increased 19% from 2002, far outpacing the 7% increase in the number of farmers overall. And as of 2013, the national organization Future Farmers of America was made up of 44% women, compared with 20% in 1988.
“Additionally, women are making the decision to enter agriculture on their own accord with a focus largely on smaller livestock operations, organic crops, or farms that grow fruit and produce for the local community,” writes USA Today.
Still, the number of female farm principal operators has recently decreased. Of the 2.1 million principal operators in the United States, 288,264 were women, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture report. This was a 6% decrease since 2007—larger than the decrease in male principal operators.
Vox also points out that, according to the map above, women are dominating farming only in areas where farms aren’t heavily concentrated; specifically, the West, Southwest, and Northeast (even more specifically, in New England, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington).
Where are farms heavily concentrated? In the upper Midwest—and if you look at the map, it shows that the percentage of farms run by women is low in that region.
Vox also points out that “the farms that women do run tend to be tiny and have low sales figures. 76 percent make less than $10,000 per year, and 54 percent are smaller than 50 acres.”
Over on the USDA blog, agriculture deputy secretary Krysta Harden talks about the responsibility of female principal farm operators to educate the next generation: