It all started with a class I enrolled in called Annie's Project
...a "project"/curriculum designed to empower farm women to be better business partners.
Annie wanted to be an involved business partner with her farm husband. She lived and worked in our country's agricultural scene from the 1950s-1990s. Times were tough and decisions had to be made. She was a meticulous book keeper, devoted wife, and loving mother. She used her intuition and detailed notes to guide the family in pivotal farm enterprise decisions.
"When others looked upon decisions Annie had helped to make, their opinions were not always kind, and that was very hard on Annie. But she stuck with her decisions. She corrected mistakes, and learned from experience." (anniesproject.org)
Annie was married to her farmer husband for 50 years. She died in 1997, a wealthy landowner, and doing things her way.
The WV Agri-Women organization began as a stepping stone for Annie's Project graduates, a locally based continuation of curriculum and support. Today, WV Agri-Women is over 50 members strong. We are a chapter of the American Agri-Women organization, which began in 1974.
American Agri-Women was founded in order to develop a collective voice for agriculture.
“Beset with many serious problems, American Agriculture, as a fragmented industry, lacked a single voice through which to speak to bring about effective change. Many felt agriculture needed to develop a voice to speak for the entire industry. Women were to play an important role in developing a united voice for agriculture. In 1969, a group of women in Oregon organized as a result of government regulations banning farmers burning fields. Oregon Women for Agriculture (OWA) stood alone, for their husbands were too busy farming to respond and fight the forces that were determining the course of American Agriculture.” (americanagriwomen.org)
A noble start! However, some say this "woman band" is now antiquated in today's progressive-minded society. Why are Agri-"women" still necessary? What are Agri-"men" apparently not doing? Why is there a need for these sexist organizations?
Great questions! Questions that have had me on both sides of the fence.
My simple answer is because we, as sexes, are different. Men and women tout the need for equality, but do they know what equality really means?
Equality - the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.
People want to go to the frontlines of business, war, art, and love and be treated as an equal in status, rights, and opportunities. But that doesn't mean that you want to be treated like a man if you're a woman, or a woman if you're a man. We all experience these statuses, rights, and opportunities differently, and that's ok. I enjoy the company of other like-minded women, hence my gravitation towards Agri-Women. This is especially important for me when I am navigating through new territory- agriculture. I did not grow up on a farm, I did not go to school and study agriculture, I'm basically winging it! But I have the help and guidance of some women who understand that vulnerable perspective. When you become vulnerable, where do you turn? I tend to seek guidance from girlfriends. I can be vulnerable with them, because they understand my feminine baseline. It's basic biology.
I see WV Agri-Women as a sub-committee. We are a small group of like minded individuals who can get projects done which benefit larger WV, and even National, agricultural initiatives.
"Strict egalitarianism, with its punitive overtones, doesn't work. It's not equality that counts, it's reciprocity." - F. Casta-Rosaz
Reciprocity - the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges.
Privileges such as status, rights, and opportunity ;)
I am also a member of the WV Farm Bureau, the Veteran Farmers Coalition, the National Bison Association, and the Eastern Bison Association.