Todays reality - 30 percent of farm operators are women
By Haley Bilokraly
As women across the world are celebrated on International Women’s Day, let’s take a look at the statistics related to women in agriculture and the steps being taken to encourage women in the industry.
Firstly, the number of women working in agriculture is growing. There has been a 2.3% increase of women farm operators in Canada since 2016 with the total number rising from 77,970 to 79,975.
The proportion of women working in agriculture compared to men is growing closer together. In 2016, 28.7% of farm operators were women compared to 30.4% in 2021.
Since 2016 there has been a 26.5% increase in female farm operators managing one-operator farms. As a result, 1 in 7 one-operator farmers in Canada are managed by women.
If you were to visit a sheep or goat farm, it is likely that you’d encounter a woman operator as 41.1% of sheep and goat farms in Canada are female managed. The farm type least likely to be operated by a woman is oilseed and grain farms.
Female farm operations occur from coast to coast as British Columbia has the highest percentage of female farm operators at 39.7%, in second is Alberta at 32.4%, then Ontario with the third highest at 31.0%.
Although these statistics are promising for women in agriculture, women have not easily been recognized in the industry. For many years, women have gone unnoticed for the hidden work they do on farms and were often left out of agriculture-related leadership opportunities. For example, in 2015 the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council found that only 28% of Canadian agricultural associations had at least one woman on their board, further emphasizing the underrepresentation of women in the agriculture sector.
However, it is important to celebrate the progress that has been made. This is only achievable because of the individuals and organizations who have created events, networks, programs, funding and more that is dedicated for women in agriculture.
A few examples of these initiatives include the Farm Credit Canada Women Entrepreneurship Program, the Engaging and Advancing Women in Agriculture Project, and the Ag Womens Network.
This International Women's Day, take a moment to reflect on the promising story told through these statistics and the progress that still needs to be made for women in agriculture.