The Planted Row: Have you thanked a FarmHer today?

Farm Forum

There is one person on our family’s farm who has worked as hard as anyone to make sure everything runs smoothly – my grandmother.

She married my grandfather in the middle of the harvest, and on that day they moved in with his parents. The next day she went to the field with the rest of the family to pick cotton by hand. When most women would have been on their honeymoons, she was crawling on her hands and knees through a field and dragging a heavy sack of cotton behind her.

My grandmother went to the field often in the early days of her marriage, but later she devoted her time to raising six children, maintaining a home, and tending a large garden and the country store my grandfather started. It was work that began before dawn and didn’t stop until after sunset. She did this for the majority of her life, all so my grandfather could have the time to work in the field. They were a team, and she was an equal partner. Without her, my grandfather never would have been a successful farmer.

After my grandfather died, she gave my father some good advice on how to market some soybeans. This surprised my dad, and she told him, “Your father liked to handle this stuff, so I let him, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it.” Now, she is 94 years old, healthy, and sharp as a tack. She has a very big say in what happens on her farm.

My grandmother is an exceptional woman, but she is not alone. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, there are 288,264 female principal operators, the primary decision makers, in the U.S. However, when you add in second and third tier operators, there are 969,672 female farmers in our country. That’s 30 percent of all U.S. operators.

Too often, these hard-working women are ignored. The image of the American farmer in the media is often a man pitting himself against the elements, working to produce food, fuel and fiber from the good earth. In reality, 30 percent of the time, that man is a woman. When it isn’t a woman, the man usually has a woman supporting him.

We need to do a better job of highlighting the roles that women play in agriculture.

I’m proud to say the Farm Forum will begin taking positive steps in that direction with this edition. Our parent company, Schurz Communications Inc., has a growing partnership with FarmHer, a company started by Marji Guyler-Alaniz, a former crop insurance executive, with the stated goal of updating the image of agriculture to include women.

FarmHer. The name says it all, doesn’t it?

Guyler-Alaniz takes photos of female farmers and profiles them on her website. She tries to capture these women at work so that the rest of us can see what it truly means to be a woman on a farm. To support this goal, she also sells, women’s clothing and other merchandise, and a percentage of her profits is donated to organizations that support women in agriculture. I am so excited the Farm Forum has a chance to work with her. We have plenty of female readers, and we need to do more to speak about the lives these women live every day.

In today’s edition, on page 100F, you will find an introduction by Guyler-Alaniz and a profile and photos of a female farmer. Every other week, you’ll see a new profile, and to the extent that we are able, we will be promoting FarmHer and its mission.

It’s an important mission. My sister was recently made a partner in our family’s farm. She’ll be taking it over someday. I want her story and the stories of women like her to be told, and I am so happy to help FarmHer do just that.

If you are interested in seeing more of Guyler-Alaniz’s photos or ordering some attractive FarmHer clothing, do yourself a favor and visit You can also follow @Farmher1 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.