March 8, 2023
From Assemblywoman Majorie Byrnes: Landmark Conference Shines a Light on Women in Ag
Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NY FarmNet hosted a Women in Ag Day Conference to build and support a network of women in agriculture in and around Livingston County on March 7, 2023. More than 60 women participated in this landmark event.
“Women are taking the lead more in every industry. We realized that in agriculture, however, women are an underserved community. With the backbone of our economy depending on agriculture it is essential that New York state support women in agriculture,” said Byrnes. “I am proud to partner with the USDA and FarmNet to offer this event. I hope leaders in other communities across our state will learn from this experience and do more to support women in agriculture for everyone’s benefit.”
Byrnes said the idea for the event came from discussions her staff was having with constituents regarding the impact the recession, pandemic and other factors were having on their farms and well-being. Though the state had done awareness campaigns on the impact of stress and financial difficulties on essential workers, the unemployed and others throughout and since the pandemic, those in the agricultural community were not often part of that conversation. In fact, in some instances new mandates from Albany were adding to the stress and burden for many farmers across the state.
Byrnes’ office reached out to FarmNet and the USDA and they began workshopping the idea for a conference that would offer support and resources to the constituents, many of whom were women. That’s when the Women in Ag Day began to take shape.
Byrnes said, “Of course, the need for support and resources is not exclusive to women but we realized there are many women who are now taking over their family farms or who are starting farms for the first time. The future of farming is looking more and more female, so what can the state do to support that? Let’s start by having a conversation. So that’s what we set out to do.”
Over the next few weeks, Byrnes said she will continue to review the feedback from the event and meet with colleagues at the state Capitol to see if there are legislative proposals she can develop to specifically address any of the issues that came up at the event. In the meantime, she encourages her colleagues to host similar events in their communities and gives huge thanks to FarmNet and the USDA for their work, support, and collaboration.
Both FarmNet and the USDA are vital resources for agriculture. To learn more, please consult their websites or follow them on social media.