Sask. recognizes rural women

By Helen Row Toews

March 16, 2017 12:00 AM

Women's role vital on the farm

Rural women everywhere deserve our respect and appreciation for their contribution to farming and ranching, whether they reside in Saskatchewan or not.
However, I’m pleased with my province for setting aside this month to acknowledge the critical role they’ve played in day-to-day running of the farm or ranch, both in the past and present, and their role in agriculture as a whole.
From times past, women have shouldered enormous responsibility on the farm.
During the formation of this country, their efforts were centered more on survival for their families rather than on economic gain.
While farming isn’t quite so life and death any longer, their strength and sense of duty has remained.
Growing up in a small farming community in the 60s, I knew many women who worked alongside their husbands in the field each day.
Often they then dashed into the house to prepare the evening meal—alone.
The responsibilities of raising and caring for the children were also theirs, and the running of a farm home was, and is, no small task.
This scenario is by no means a snapshot only of the past.
Women still push themselves to manage an impossible workload; time and again, unacknowledged and unseen.
According to several sources, nearly 25 per cent of primary farm operators in Saskatchewan are women.
This large statistic surprised me and I must say I feel proud.
Women are passionate about the land and put value on knowing how and where the food they provide, for the world, is produced.
They’ve always been committed to improving quality of life for their families and communities.
They understand the need for nourishing, healthy food and desire the benefits of rural living for those they care about.
Country women are resourceful.
They can turn a hand to most anything that needs doing on a farm; even juggling several at once.
For many, running heavy equipment is a piece of cake, pulling a calf, mere child’s play, moving 100 head of cattle or repairing a fence is all in a day’s work for ladies who run a farm or ranch.
Rural women take on many other leadership roles within the agriculture sector.
They are soil and crop specialists, are knowledgeable in farm supply and cattle sales, or are involved in food product research and quality assurance.
They may be employed in the field of science as a veterinarian, or perhaps as an animal geneticist.
My niece, CJ, is, as we speak, attending the University of Saskatchewan, which brings us all great pride here on the farm.
She’s training in the field of animal science with particular focus on livestock.
There are many future paths she may take in agriculture, armed with these studies.
Local grain buyer Sarah Davis works for the Lloydminster Viterra grain elevator, and finds every day enjoyable.
Her job is varied and interesting as she interacts with farmers, contracts their grain and ensures delivery and export.
Each new crop year brings its own set of complications but as Davis says, it’s incredibly rewarding to work together with producers to overcome these challenges.
Women such as these are helping to change the face of leadership in agriculture.
In researching this topic, I found a statement issued by our Agriculture minister, Lyle Stewart, and feel it bears repeating.
“Women play an important role in agriculture and Saskatchewan’s rural communities,” he said.
“They are business owners, farm and ranch operators and leaders, and they have been key players in the agriculture industry’s growth. I commend the work they do in their communities, in their business and for the province.”
Thankfully, women aren’t invisible any longer. 
I couldn’t have said it better.

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