Washington Women in Agriculture

On nearly every farm, there are woman working shoulder to shoulder with men, making decisions, keeping the wheels turning and handling the myriad of tasks that come up every day on a farm. We ask if they would like to share their stories. Their response was over whelming. 

The next time you think about a typical family farmer, remember she's probably also part accountant, truck driver, fence builder, mom, coach, policy analyst, advocate and more.

          Jaime with cattle

I don’t spend a lot of time in the field, but I am very involved in the operation of our farm. I handle all of the paperwork, including accounting, payroll, insurance, and reporting to USDA.  Marci Green

We farm in southeast Spokane County on ground that has been in my family over 125 years. We raise wheat, bluegrass seed, lentils and peas using minimum tillage. We are the 6th generation on our family farm. Our sons are  looking forward to becoming the 7th generation to farm. Marci Green 

The 6th and 7th generations on the same land.

I have often been asked why I chose to work in a male dominated industry.  My Answer, "No one told me I couldn’t!"

I grew up on a farm and always enjoyed the work, the long days and having my hands in the soil. I’ve worked as a production consultant, in food safety audits, and commodity and seed sales. Now I have my own business providing these services to other farmers. In my free time, I assist my husband and sons on our processing potato farm doing everything from cultivating potatoes to marketing our wheat crop.
Melva Calloway

Record keeping, bill paying, developing marketing campaigns, (see Sackmann Cattle Co. on Facebook) it all happens around the same kitchen table where we eat dinner every night.  

Jaime Sackmann

     A farm is a great place to grow up.

My roots run deep in agriculture. So many life lessons were learned  working on the farm and being mentored by my dad. 

Kristen Van Valkenburg

I am a farmer's daughter, grand-daughter, great-granddaughter... 

I am also raising three farmer's daughters and one farmer's son. Farming is the world I grew up in and the passion I inherited.  We never clock-out.  Especially with livestock, something always needs attention. I helped pull a calf at 2:00 AM,  in the dead of winter, with a 3 month old baby in a front pack.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Jaime Sackmann

My husband and I are raising our children with the same core values, work ethic, and respect for family, land, water and  people that we grew up with. Nothing is more rewarding than that.  Michelle Hennings

Every generation of farmers seeks to leave the land in better condition than when they began, and to build a legacy for those who come after.  Over the last 30 years of working the farm together, my husband and I have deployed ever more complex technology.  By necessity, we have been relentless in finding ways to save expenses on fuel, fertilizers, seed, equipment and labor.   One thing we know as farmers, nature is a tough task master. If you make a mistake, it will teach you hard lessons.  My history with the land has led to a passion for deeper understanding of life and the miraculous processes revealed when the earth yields up her secrets.

Mary Dye Farmer, plant scientist, mother and State Representative

As executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. I love working for the industry because my family experiences the same issues the association deals with. I never thought I would be involved in politics, but it’s rewarding to know that our efforts benefit all farmers including my friends and neighbors. 
Michelle Hennings

As Vice-President of Washington Association of Wheat Growers, I hold a seat on the board of the National Association of Wheat Growers. I meet with policy makers in Olympia and Washington DC. I also chair the Public Information committee.  Consumers are rightfully interested in the quality of their food and the effect of agriculture on the environment.  I wish they all knew what we do to ensure a safe and healthy food supply and to improve the land we farm. Marci Green

Our kids show pigs and steers at the county fair, help move animals and have missed the bus or been late to a ball practice because an animal was not where it belonged. At ages 11-4 we don't know yet if our kids will be involved in agriculture as adults, but they will know where their food comes from and remember that the weather changes plans and calves get dinner before we do. 
Jamie Sackmann
Most farms are family farms. We incorporate to manage risk and make it easier for multiple family members to share the business, but the decisions are made around the kitchen table and all family members participate in the work.

State Representative Mary Dye farms with her family near Pomeroy, Washington. She's pictured here with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers who also grew up on a farm in Washington State. 

I bought my first heifer when I was a freshman in high school, her name was Princess.   I learned to used EPD’s (expected progeny differences) to produce quality cattle.   I wish consumers understood the hard work and dedication we put into producing food.  People deserve to know how their food is grown and what happens before it gets to the store.
Katie Emerson

Farmers care about the environment and land because their livelihood depends on it.

Michelle Hennings