By CDFA Secretary Karen Ross
As we celebrate International Women’s Day today I’d like to recognize and thank the women in food and agriculture who work diligently and heroically to produce nutritious food, fiber and flora throughout the value chain.
Women have always been a core part of food and agriculture and we are seeing that in the data we collect, as well as the fact that women farmers are growing in numbers. The USDA Census of Agriculture shows that nearly 30 percent of American farms are principally operated by women, and we expect that number to continue to grow as we address equity in public policy. In addition to farmers, women are key parts of the entirety of the system from researchers and scientists, to harvest and packaging field workers and supervisors, to distribution, retail, and restaurants.
I am proud of the increased representation of women in Ag leadership at the national and state levels. President Biden nominated Virginia’s Agriculture Commissioner, Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, to serve as the US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. If confirmed, Dr. Bronaugh would be the first African American woman to serve in the position. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is headed by Dr. Barb Glenn. In fact, women head state departments of agriculture in 13 states. Here in California, Ann Veneman served not only as California’s first female Secretary of Agriculture but also the first (and only) female Secretary of Agriculture for the United States.
At CDFA, we are blessed by a number of women serving our state. From division directors, managers and supervisors, to scientists, inspectors and field staff, we are proud that nearly 50 percent of our staff at CDFA is female and doing great work supporting our efforts in a variety of ways. I also want to acknowledge the 15 women in California who serve as county agricultural commissioners. They are essential partners in all that we do.
Let’s applaud all women on this day and every day, and give thanks for their contributions to agriculture. They are the role models to inspire many girls and young women to see the multitude of ways we can serve – and lead – agriculture