Local event empowers women in agriculture

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COLUMBIA - Only 14 percent of farms have women in charge of their day-to-day operations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

FarmHer is trying to change that. 

The group is dedicated to getting more women involved in agriculture, and they brought a showcase with their ideas to mid-Missouri Friday.

"At the root of what we do, we tell stories, and we tell the stories of women. And all of those women are connected through agriculture," said Marji Guyler-Alaniz, the founder of FarmHer. 

One of the ways the group does this is by hosting "Grow" events, which are designed to inspire, educate, and empower young women.

They hosted a "Grow" event in Columbia on Friday featuring speakers, networking opportunities and breakout sessions. Friday's event was the third and final stop of FarmHer's "Grow Tour Week." The group also has a television show that airs on RFD TV and a podcast called "Shining Bright."

FarmHer has inspired young women across Mid-Missouri.

Aeris Barton, a Fayette High School student, grew up on a farm and aspires to be a veterinarian when she is older, she said. 

FarmHer's "Grow" event inspired her.

"It makes me want to push for more women to advocate in agriculture and be more involved. It kind of makes me want to stand up and definitely be more involved. And prove that women can do it too,"  Barton said.

A small percentage of farms are run by women, and of those, young women are rare: The USDA reports that 6 percent of women who run farms are less than 35 years old.

Another Fayette High School student sees this as an opportunity.

"Starting out as a younger woman, I can pursue more and make more of a difference...if we can get more younger women involved in things like FFA (Future Farmers of America) and events like this, we can make a difference and show that we have a purpose in the Agriculture industry," Mollie Thies said.