MUSCATINE — Of the 88,637 farms in Iowa, women were the principal operators of 7,108 farms, according to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture. Women accounted for 868,909 acres of 30.6 million farmed in the state.
According to census data, women are the principal operators of 10 percent of Muscatine County's farms. But still they only make 3 percent of the total farm acreage.
While women have been able to register their ownership of real estate as early as 1851, the challenge of breaking into agriculture appears in the data.
"Agriculture can often seem male-dominated," said Holly Howard, coordinator for the Lower Cedar Watershed. She said it can be hard for women to foster peer groups when their voices are in the minority.
To help foster the connections, Women, Land and Legacy will be holding a listening section for women farm owners and producers in Muscatine, Cedar and Scott Counties. WLL is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program in 29 Iowan counties that works with women on agriculture education and outreach. The listening session is aimed at networking across women farmers in the tri-county area.
"The goal is to listen and give women opportunities to voice their strength in the area of agriculture," Howard said. "And to share what their needs are. To better manage land and resources and how agencies can better assist them."
Representation from Muscatine and Cedar County and employees of the Muscatine County Soil and Water Conservation District will be present to listen to women in attendance.
"It’s a great opportunity for women to have their voices heard and empowered through conversation and connection," Howard said.
The first listening session will run from 2 to 4 p.m. and again from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, September 10 at the Durant Community Center, 606 5th Ave.