USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden last week said the agency is planning to create a new network for women in agriculture to connect with others in the industry.
The Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network will "support and engage women across all areas of agriculture and to foster professional partnerships between women with shared backgrounds, interests, and professional goals," Harden said in a Feb. 19 USDA blog.
Harden said the creation of the network is tied to a White House meeting held last fall with agribusinesses, academics and youth leaders about the opportunities that exist to help advance women in agriculture.
"Since that meeting, the response has been overwhelming. Women from all walks of life and every sector of the agriculture supply chain are empowering one another, and they're sharing beautiful photographs and touching stories about how they've done it," Harden wrote.
She said USDA has created an e-mail address, email@example.com, for stakeholders to share suggestions, stories and ideas on building a new generation of women ag leaders. By using the email address, stakeholders will automatically be added to the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network.
The network is the first step in helping women advance their leadership in agriculture, she noted.
"I am truly excited by the passion and confidence I continue to see in women in agriculture across the country. In the office, on the road, I am constantly stopped by young women looking to find mentorship, or current leaders looking to lift up our next generation. Now, with our new network, you can," Harden wrote.
USDA plans to release additional information on the new network as it expands, the blog said.
According to 2012 USDA Census data, the U.S. has more than 900,000 women farmers; nationally women were 30% of farmers, but in states in the Northeast, Southwest, and West women comprise larger shares.
Of total female farmers, 288,264 were principal operators.