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COMMENTARY BY BROWNFIELD'S YOUNG CELEBRATING WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE
by Cyndi Young, Gen'l Mgr, Brownfield Ag News

I was struggling with the introduction to a speech I was preparing for the Montgomery City, Missouri Women's Ag Awareness group last week. A friend of mine suggested I share something I had written as a tribute to my Grandma Doris, Mom's mom, who passed away last week at the age of 96:

She was born during the influenza pandemic that killed more people than the Great War. Her mother died of that flu when Grandma was one year old. She was born before women had the right to vote.

When she and Grandpa farmed in the Illinois River bottoms in Greene County, Ill., from the tractor pulling a planter or cultivator through those fields, she told me she could smell the exhaust from the fighter jets practicing combat maneuvers.

No cab on the tractor, and Grandma wore long sleeves, pants, gloves and a straw hat with a wide brim to shade her face from the sun. She passed the General Educational Development (GED) test and received her high school diploma at 75 years of age.

Her first ride in a commercial airplane was with me to visit my aunt, her daughter, in Colorado. She was 78. The pilot came out and gave her wings. She liked brightly colored clothing and jewelry.

She loved to fish. She was a staunch Republican and proudly cast her ballot in the most recent presidential election. She loved to play cards. She was an amazing writer. Her beautiful blue eyes and smile could light up a room.

She and Grandpa raised 5 children. I am one of 19 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren and 30 great-great grandchildren that she loved and made feel special.

When I think of the changes she saw in her lifetime, not only in agriculture, but in communications, technology, medicine, culturally, socially, and politically, I am in awe. Hers is a story not unlike many others born and married into life on the family farm in the early 1900's.

It is a story of perseverance. It is a story of partnership. It is the history many of us share.

Women have always worked in the fields alongside their families on farms in this country, but their role in agriculture, both on and off the farm, was not fully recognized until more recent years. Census of Agriculture Data released this month claims that 30% of all farm operators in the U.S. (969,672 farm operators) were female in 2012.

This Mother's Day, please take a moment to remember those very special, unique and wonderful "farm moms" in your life. I remember giggling to myself when someone referred to my mom as a "housewife" or later, a "stay-at-home mom." There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those terms, but neither would have defined my mother.

Quite often, these extraordinary women are the glue that holds the family and the farm together. These women who can mend a pair of jeans and the fence that ripped them are a special sort and should be celebrated


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