Documentary to highlight women in agriculture

Filmmakers reach out to female farmers to tell the untold stories of women in agriculture throughout history.

Amanda Radke

March 26, 2018

4 Min Read
Documentary to highlight women in agriculture
Women’s Work: The Untold Story of America’s Female Farmer

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to speak at a FarmHer event. The conference brought together hundreds of agricultural women for a day of informative speakers and fun. It was a great feeling knowing I had so much in common with the other people in the room, and I left the event feeling recharged and motivated to go back home to our family’s operation and apply things I had learned that day to our business.

Growing up in agriculture with two sisters, my dad always treated us like one of his hired men. We weren’t princesses; we were capable of doing anything, and I think it was those early lessons that gave me the confidence to pursue a career in agriculture and feel like I had a place in this industry as a female, despite it being a male-dominated field.

Buying land, cattle and equipment over the years has been a team effort with myself and my husband, with the support and advice of my parents who run cattle alongside us. As a woman, I could do hard work outside with Tyler, but I also offer a different set of skills than what he has. This has become more apparent in recent years as I’m often in the house with our children instead of doing the work outside. We all have our roles, and together, we make a great team; both of our names are on the bank notes, and we’re both working hard to raise our kids and make a living in the cattle business.

While some women may disagree, I don’t get upset if someone calls me a rancher’s daughter or a rancher’s wife; I’m secure enough to know that I’m as equally invested in this business as Tyler is, and I’m a proud wife for what he, and other strong men like my dad and grandpa, have accomplished before me.

But I also know that strong women — like my mom and grandma — have stood quietly beside these strong man over the years to help them achieve success, and they, too, deserve recognition for their contributions to our multi-generational operation.

Modern agriculture is changing, and women are playing a larger role now in professional and production agricultural pursuits than ever before. Groups like FarmHer work hard to highlight these women, and it’s great to see, particularly since females have historically been left out of agriculture’s earliest stories.

A new documentary film aims to tell the untold stories of past and present female farmers.

According to Matthew Weaver for the Capital Press, “Filmmakers from Washington state want to tell the stories of America’s women farmers. They are working on a new documentary film called ‘Women’s Work: The Untold Story of America’s Female Farmer.’

“We’ve been putting women back into the narrative of the modern-day story,” said co-executive producer Audra Mulkern, founder of the Female Farmer Project.

“Traveling across the U.S., Mulkern wanted to learn more about the “sisters of our past,” trying to find women who stepped up during wars and times of crisis to work the land.

“Where were those women in the history books?” she said. “They just didn’t exist, and I really had to dig deep to find any images at all. That’s what really inspired this, to shine a light on those generations of farm women who are missing from history.”

“Women are farming, they’ve always been farming,” Mulkern added. “What’s missing is their place in history. As we look at agricultural history, we have been conditioned to look at farming as sort of men’s work. We’d really love to reinsert women back into that narrative, to really celebrate those women who have done it all along and are still doing it, and inherited those wonderful legacies.”

The film is raising funds to continue shooting at farms across the country, and they are also still looking for female perspectives from ranching matriarchs who can share their experiences from the ranch.

You can learn more about the documentary by clicking here and watching the trailer. It looks like a pretty interesting film, and I even see a few familiar faces featured! Check it out and let me know what you think.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

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