Agriculture conference highlights increase of women in the field

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COLUMBIA - Female agriculture producers from across Missouri traveled to Columbia for a two-day agriculture conference.

The Pearls of Production conference put on by MU Extension focused on women in the livestock area of agriculture. 

Hands-on demonstrations and presentations from speakers in the field took place Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. 

Sessions focused on topics such as marketing cattle, calf processing, and grazing management tools. 

MU Extension livestock specialist Wendy Flatt help begin the conference three years ago after the success of calving clinics geared just for women. 

“I thought since I was a woman in agriculture and I know how intimidating it can be, no offense to the guys, but can it be a little intimidating for women to come in and ask questions during these producer meetings and women have some different needs that men don’t necessarily have," Flatt said. 

Flatt said the conference allows women to bond together through shared experiences and gives them a less intimidating atmosphere to get hands-on experience. 

"I was very intimidated when I was younger coming into this field because most of the, most of the meetings I have gone to it’s not very unusual for me to be the only female in the room," Flatt said. 

Flatt said she has noticed an increase of interest in female-only workshops along with more females entering the field. 

"There’s more and more females that are getting more into being livestock specialists and going through graduate school and coming up through the University of Missouri's animal science program and so there’s more of us, females, out there in the industry and on the university side and it’s just kind of amazing to see the women really want to get more involved in their farming operations,” Flatt said. 

Flatt said she has noticed an increase in females veterinarians, livestock specialists and on the agricultural business side. 

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's census reports an increase in more than 50,000 principal female operators between 2002 and 2012.  

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