Friday, June 8, 2012

Farm Women’s Involvement in the Farm

Farm women take on many roles on the family farm. She may be the caretaker of the children. She may work off the farm and not have an interest in the daily operation of the farm. She may be the principle operator, or could operate the farm in partnership with her husband. A woman’s role on the farm is not the same from one operation to another. The only similarity between every farm woman is that she needs to be aware and educated about operating the family farm.

A farm woman is tied tightly to the farming operation, whether she is a daily partner or not. Farm families depend on the farm as a source of income and a way of life. There are often misconceptions that if a family member does not work on the farm then they do not need to know anything about it. That is wrong. If something happens to the primary farm operator, the operation will still need to be managed and possibly be distributed to heirs. Crops will still need to be tended, harvested, and marketed. Livestock will need to be fed, cared for, and marketed. Also, if the operation is involved in any leases, those lease terms will still need to be honored.

Estate planning is often ignored because we all have a sense of “my partner will always be here.” The reality is that anything can happen when you least expect it, whether you are young or old. The state has a probate law that distributes property if one of the farm partners passes away. What happens if the state’s plan is not what you want? Every farm family should have a plan on how their farm and property will be distributed in the case of a death. There are many ways that property can be passed on to the next generation, but it takes time and planning to properly do this. It is important to consult a good attorney, financial counselors, and any other advisors that you trust in this process.

Another thing to consider is crop insurance. Crop insurance is confusing, but it is an important part of operating a farm. There are many types of crop insurance and the rules seem to be changing every year. It is important that those involved in the operation know where the policies are filed and learn about the type of coverage your operation purchases and why. It would also be helpful to develop a relationship with the operation’s insurance representative and to be involved in the conversations when decisions are made about what type to purchase.

University of Missouri Extension offers several programs throughout the year that target farm women to help them become better business partners on the farm. Agriculture Business Specialists have been offering a program called Annie’s Project across the state for several years. There have been hundreds of graduates that are now better able to help make decisions on the farm because of this program.

This conference will also be held on August 22nd in Carrollton, St. Joseph, and Mexico, MO. To find more about this program or the Annie’s Project program contact Randa Doty at (660) 582-8101 or check out the Women in Boots & BlueJeans website.

(by Randa Doty, MU Extension, Northwest Regional Ag Business Specialist)

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