Food and Farming Tiny Bites: Ag Subsidies and Farm Women

{photo spread via; images of women farmers in the Northeast from a 2008 New York Times Sunday Magazine feature of women farmers, “Out of the Kitchen, Into the Field.”}

March is National Women’s History Month (gosh, isn’t that ironic…) and in the past few weeks, women farmers have been popping up more and more in various news outlets. Last month, the USDA finally settled a longstanding discrimination lawsuit filed by women farmers who experienced discrimination in asking for loans and loan servicing between 1981 and 2000. For more information on the lawsuit, check out

On Tuesday, Iowa Public Radio featured a lengthy segment on the changing role of women in agriculture:

Women have always been an important part of life on the farm but have traditionally performed a supporting role. On a special edition of Talk of Iowa produced in conjunction with Harvest Public Media, host Charity Nebbe examines the changing role of women in agriculture.

Listen to the entire audio here: Women in Agriculture via Iowa Public Radio

And in other women farmer news, the USDA’s website has devoted an entire page to the history of women in agriculture! Call me an ag woman nerd, but this is SUPER exciting and useful for students and individuals in the future who are looking for research of women on farms. If only this was around last semester

Finally, Mark Bittman, in his new Opinionator column for the New York Times, wrote a great piece on the brief history of the agricultural subsidies with a reasonable plea about why the government shouldn’t abolish agricultural subsidies, but instead should reevaluate where the direct payments are going.

Agricultural subsidies have helped bring us high-fructose corn syrup, factory farming, fast food, a two-soda-a-day habit and its accompanying obesity, the near-demise of family farms, monoculture and a host of other ills.

Yet — like so many government programs — what subsidies need is not the ax, but reform that moves them forward. Imagine support designed to encourage a resurgence of small- and medium-size farms producing not corn syrup and animal-feed but food we can touch, see, buy and eat — like apples and carrots — while diminishing handouts to agribusiness and its political cronies.


One Comment on “Food and Farming Tiny Bites: Ag Subsidies and Farm Women”

  1. […] Recent articles and attention to women farmers have made me feel less absurd. In light of International Women’s Day, the focus on women in agriculture moves into a broader, more global context. An article today on highlights the newest addition of The State of Food and Agriculture, 2010-2011 (SOFA) from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The 160-page report, subtitled “WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE: Closing the gender gap for development” emphasizes the role of women farmers worldwide in reducing poverty and hunger. You can read a 4-page summary/flier of the report OR, for you tried-and-true women-in-ag nerds like myself, you can read the entire report here. […]

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