Indiana Farm Bureau celebrates feminine contributions to agriculture
The month of March marks National Month of Women’s History and celebrates the contribution women made to American history and their ongoing impact on society. This includes recognizing the vital role women leaders play in agriculture and how they make their own claims to history.
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s latest 2017 farm census, more than 31,000 of all farmers in Indiana are women. You will also find women who work in the agribusiness, start a nonprofit or small business, and use their voice to raise awareness about agriculture.
Many farming organizations have programs specifically tailored for women in agriculture, including the Indiana Farm Bureau and the Women’s Leadership Committee, which runs programs that provide women with a platform for leadership, political engagement, and networking.
Isabella Chism, 2nd Vice President of INFB, also chairs the American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee, which is dedicated to helping women realize their potential in the Ag industry. Isabella made history when she became the first member of the Indiana Farm Bureau to chair the AFBF Women’s Leadership Committee.
“Whatever role they play, there is no doubt that women are influencing agriculture in Indiana,” said Chism. “I am delighted that women continue to take on new roles and leadership positions on and off the farm.”
Here’s a look at three female INFB members who have an impact on Indiana agriculture.
Vice President, Commercial and Agricultural Lender at First Farmers Bank & Trust; Co-founder of BOGO Foods
Amie Osborn didn’t grow up on a farm but found a passion for farming in her Northern California high school by attending FFA poultry topping-out events. After graduating with a degree in Agriculture, Osborn and her husband Vince moved to Indiana to attend Purdue University and deepen their knowledge of traditional agriculture.
She now lives in Miami County and is Vice President, Commerce and Agriculture Lender at First Farmers Bank & Trust. She helps clients manage farm finances. But it was the AgrIInstitute’s Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program that inspired Osborn to make a difference in their local community, fueled by her passion for agriculture.
When the Osborns were volunteering at a local homeless shelter in Kokomo last year, they discovered something that made itself felt.
“The coordinator stated that people who are homeless or who are often unsafe are protein deficient,” said Osborn. “Given our love and knowledge of agriculture and animal protein, we thought we might be able to help, so BOGO (Buy One Give One) Foods began.”
BOGO Foods is a non-profit organization focused on providing protein to those in need, especially those suffering from homelessness. The Osborns raise broilers and sell the locally produced protein. They use the profits to buy bulk quantities of protein wholesale, following the “buy one, give one” model. One locally grown bird is the equivalent of 10 servings of meat for those who are unsure.
“There are people who are willing to buy a premium product and support local agriculture while doing good to others,” said Osborn.
By selling their poultry and with the help of an anonymous donor, BOGO Foods supplied 288 pounds of animal protein to local animal shelter organizations last February.
Osborn recognizes how her network of agribusiness, animal protein, and nonprofits has influenced her professionally and personally to make a difference.
“I’ve learned that it’s important to get involved with your network. That means not only expanding your network, but using it – call and ask questions for more information, ”she said. “I look forward to continuing to get more protein into the hands of people who need it.”
Co-owner, Walker Farms; Blogger, The Backroad Life
Stacy Walker and her husband Scott run Walker Farms in Jasper County, a diversified pumpkin and pumpkin farm. It sells to local businesses, garden shops and farmers’ markets in the area.
Walker is no stranger to agriculture. She grew up on a farm and was very involved in 4H and FFA. With a degree in horticulture and after working in a few greenhouses, Walker wanted to expand beyond pumpkins. She grows flowers and cuts them to sell at the farmers’ markets. She delivers bouquets of flowers on site, creating a network of connections within the community.
“I’ve grown sunflowers for the past four years and wanted to grow more than just these and pumpkins, she said. “I now grow a variety of flowers and sell mixed bouquets in farmers markets and online. Growing flowers and pumpkins connects us with agriculture and gives us our own share in the ag world. “
Walker also has a blog, The Backroad Life, where she shares recipes and farm life through blog posts and on her social channels.
The goal of the blog is to highlight the inspiration for recipes, publish how-to guides on the subject of farming, and expose their audiences to farming. Previous posts included “Honey Garlic Garlic Roasted Cauliflower”, “Light Vegetables in Cold Weather” and “Why Choose a CSA?”
“My recipe post for strawberry jam also included tips for harvesting strawberries,” explained Walker. “I always try to reconnect with agriculture.”
Office Manager, Daily Farms; commercial applicator, Mill Creek Crop Care
Pulaski County Farm Bureau President Tasha Mitchell knows firsthand the importance and determination of the work on the family farm. She has been with her family’s Daily Farms for eight years and is a leader in grain inventory, data entry and human resources.
The Daily family’s farms were built on the basis of Mitchell’s grandparents and continued with their father, uncle and brother. They cultivate a mixture of corn, soybeans, beans, popcorn, wheat and milo as well as organic and transitional organic arable land.
Mitchell didn’t always plan to work on her family farm. “They needed someone to do the book work, so I started working part-time after college, but then I started doing more roles and training,” said Mitchell.
She is working with her brother Jess Daily at Mainstay Farming Partnership to create an Ag-focused newsletter called Agri-CULTURE, which is sent twice a year to landowners and partners in the Midwest. The newsletter contains industry news as well as internal, family and employee updates.
In addition to her roles at Daily Farms, Mitchell works with her husband Jeff, who owns and operates Mill Creek Crop Care, an independent retail fertilizer and chemical company. She works as a commercial applicator applying fertilizer products.
Mitchell is particularly proud of that.
“I had never touched a device before learning to operate the fertilizer applicator sprayer, but I really enjoy knowing that I can help the company,” she said. “Next, I’ll learn how to ride a semi.”
Mitchell’s advice to other women looking to get into the Ag industry is simple – don’t give up.
“It can be hard. You may think you can’t do it, ”she explained. “Success and growth are primarily based on our own determination and ambition. Keep adapting and learning because agriculture is always evolving and women belong in the process. “