Over the past few decades, women have entered agriculture in unprecedented numbers. Increasingly, women own farmland, are new farmers or have become more involved in all aspects of agriculture.
There are now nearly one million women farm operators, and over half-a-million additional women landowners who lease their land to farmers. Nearly 301 million acres of U.S. land—about a third of the nation’s land in farms—are now farmed or co-farmed by women, and at least 87 million additional acres are in the hands of women landowners.
Over the next 20 years, about 240 million acres of farmland are expected to change hands as farmers retire or leave their land to the next generation. During that time, women and non-farming landlords are likely to increase in numbers.
Research shows that many women farmers and landowners have a strong conservation and stewardship ethic. They are deeply committed to healthy farmland, farm families and farm communities. However, women face gender-related barriers to managing their land for long-term sustainability. While women increasingly are the primary decision makers on farms, data shows they are underrepresented in conservation programs.