‚ÄúCelebrating Women in Agriculture‚ÄĚ

The 2018 Women in Agriculture Conference took place in Rock Island on March 16th, and as always succeeded in bringing women from all different agriculture backgrounds together to network, learn and inspire.  Women in agriculture continue to be a growing population and one that as a group is ready to tackle many of the challenges our industry faces. 

This year we started with tackling the issue of fear marketing.   Our first main speaker was Michelle Miller, or as many know her, Farm Babe.  Michelle wasn't planning on a life in agriculture at all.  In fact, at one time, in her big city life, she believed all of what mainstream media and marketing were saying about modern agriculture.  It wasn't until an Iowa farm boy came waltzing into her life that she was able to make an agriculture connection.  Today, as Farm Babe, she researches and debunks myths about modern agriculture and shares facts in a fun way. 

My first breakout session continued with listening to Farm Babe discuss ways we can tell our stories and also share agriculture facts starting primarily with social media.  It's no surprise that getting our news from social media is becoming more common.  By telling our personal stories, consumers can see that we are people just like them and purchasing the same items in stores.  Use hashtags to help spread your story.  A few of the popular hashtags Farm Babe recommended were #Plant18, #FactsNotFear and #WhyIThankAg. 

Our mid-day speaker was Paul Stoddard who spoke about many different principles for long-term success in personal development.  A person must first become successful in developing him or herself before he or she can run a successful business.  His 51 things he wished he knew at 21 included financial planning, learning how to find the right advisors and planning for your business's future. 

The second breakout session looked at the many different entities available for your farm operation such as a corporation or limited liability company.  It looked at each entity in detail and discussed scenarios where those entities would be appropriate. 

Our final speaker closed our conference by returning to the topic of fear marketing.  Kim Bremmer loves to help women share their stories.  She also ensures people understand that you cannot always trust the labels of our food.  Kim informs people in entertaining, non-confrontational ways including post it notes next to the non-GMO labeled orange juice or just striking up a conversation in the grocery store.  She reminded us words are the tools that shape perception so we need to think like a consumer!  For example, try using Cow Fit Bits rather than activity monitors or precision plant breeding instead of GMO's.

Attendees left the conference with new connections and a renewed sense of excitement and inspiration.  Many of us began a fresh countdown to next year and were thinking of who should come with!  Check out the Women in Agriculture Conference Facebook page or website to stay up to date on the 2019 Conference.

Kate Huffman is a 6th generation farmer and farms with her father on their family farm in Kewanee.  Today, they grow conventional corn and soybeans.  In addition to this, she is a commercial and ag lender at Heartland Bank & Trust in Princeton.