Latest Census Data Yield Growth For Connecticut’s Women Farmers | Connecticut Public Radio

Latest Census Data Yield Growth For Connecticut’s Women Farmers

Apr 23, 2019

More women are getting counted as farmers in the state, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

About 40 percent of Connecticut's farmers are women. And hundreds are making crucial farm decisions, according to the 2017 census report.

“In general, this census shows that we’ve got more women that are being brought into the farm count,” said Bonnie Burr, department head for UConn Extension, at the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

“That’s not to say that women have not been important parts of our farm operations,” Burr said. “My grandmother was a partner in our farm operation. My mom was a partner in our farm operation.”

But Burr said previous farm counts only accounted for women owned farms. Not farms where women were employed as partners, which the 2017 data considers.

Overall, Burr said the census also shows the average value for Connecticut farm products is up. That’s good news. But it hides a less encouraging statistic: the average value for products made by smaller farms is down.

“We’re seeing some of the bigger farms get bigger,” Burr said. “And we’re seeing the smaller farms, less profitable. So that’s concerning.”

Burr said the census highlights the need for Connecticut farmers, and policymakers, to embrace new agricultural opportunities like hemp or farm-to-energy production.