Partnership with Extension boosts Kentucky Women in Agriculture

The number of women in Kentucky agriculture continues to increase. In 2017, 42,946 women farmed in Kentucky, up 36.7% from the number identified in the previous census. Of those, 33,550 were involved in making day-to-day decisions on the farm, while 26,215 were the principal producers on their farms, and 12,648 listed farming as their primary occupation. Kentucky Women in Agriculture(KWIA) was established in 1999. It recognizes the contributions of the farm woman through centuries of involvement both on-farm and in the home. Its mission is to empower women through education, action and involvement. Over the course of the last three years, the organization has rekindled the relationship with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and has put the effort into recognizing outstanding women of ag from across the commonwealth. As of October 2020, the organizationhas surpassed 300 members for the first time in its history and is continuing to grow. The premiere event of Kentucky Women in Agriculture is its annual conference, which has seen steady attendance of about 140-150 women over the course of three years. Though the in-person gathering of the2020 conference was postponed, the organization’s leadership took the initiative to pivot and host a full virtual conference in which154 women registered. Topics included education, business planning, success sharing through storytellingand mental health.The success can be attributed to its leadership from a diverse group of volunteer leaders who are committed to the mission of empowering women. The organization’s board is comprised of 28 women from across the commonwealth. Said one member, “If it wasn’t for the KWIA annual conference, I wouldn’t have had the courage to start my new business. In just a year of owning the business, I’ve cleared $50,000 and it’s because of the education and network that I took the initiative to pursue my dreams.”

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