Plenary Lecture

Using Business Management Training to Empower Women Farmers and their Families

Professor Robin G. Brumfield
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Abstract: Women have been a critical part of farm and ranch operations across the U.S.—and around the globe—for centuries. From historic homesteaders to managing small organic vegetable farms, women have been the cornerstone of America’s agriculture. The 2012 Census of Agriculture reported nearly 1 million women are working in US farms. That is nearly a third of the nation’s farmers. These women generated $12.9 billion in annual agricultural sales. The percentage is even greater for small and organic farms. Women are property owners and managers and are involved in every aspect of agriculture. In developing and emerging economies, like Turkey, women represent a substantial share of the total agricultural labor force, and their contributions are mostly invisible, being seen instead as not ‘productive’ because they often are expected to work without pay. Agriculture is a major economic sector in Turkey, with one out of four people employed in the agricultural sector. Turkey depends on women to grow most of the food that its people consume and its companies export, yet women farmers in Turkey, as in the rest of the world, struggle with a severe lack of access to agricultural resources including extension services, credit, inputs, and productive assets. Providing women farmers with the same access to these agricultural resources as men is an acknowledgment of the many irreplaceable roles played by women farmers in ensuring food security, a vibrant economy and gender equality. Whether it is a farm business that feeds the world, or a relationship that empowers and supports their community, industry, and neighbors—giving women the skills to better manage their farms empowers women farmers, contributes to food security builds communities, and empowers families.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Robin G. Brumfield, Ph.D., is a Professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA, and has been the Farm Management Extension Specialist at Rutgers since 1988. She is internationally known for her work in horticultural economics has given over 200 talks in fifteen countries. She has been Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on grants totaling over $10 million. She has published over 160 articles, including 55 refereed journal articles and 50 conference proceedings. Dr. Brumfield has a knack for communicating complex material to practitioners, using tools like workbooks and computerized calculators to help farmers make better management decisions. Her on-line workbook, To Market; To Market was designed to help small beginning farmers decide what to produce and how to market it. Her Greenhouse Cost Accounting Program is the standard in the greenhouse industry. She wrote the marketing and business management chapters for the best-selling textbook, Greenhouse Operations and Management by Dr. Paul V. Nelson. Dr. Brumfield was named a Fellow of ASHS in 2012; this is the highest honor the society bestows. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Horticulture with a minor in Economics and Business from North Carolina State University. Before joining Rutgers University, she was Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Floriculture at The Pennsylvania State University for five years. Dr. Brumfield has been working with the New Jersey Annie’s Project Team as state co-leader since 2011. She worked with the team to conduct focus groups to adapt this program from the mid-west to conditions in an urban state. She has arranged the workshops so that the women complete a business plan as part of the workshop. Robin took the Annie’s Project concept to Antalya, Turkey as her sabbatical project in late 2011. Read about this project at The Annie’s Project New Jersey and Suzanne’s Project team was awarded the 2012 Team Award for Excellence by the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, the 2013 Epsilon Sigma Phi (national extension honorary society) state team award, and the 2014 Best of the Best Rutgers Cooperative Extension Team Award. In 2013, Dr. Brumfield took Suzanne’s Project to Georgetown, Guyana. In 2013, she received the Epsilon Sigma Phi (national extension honorary society) International Service Award for her international work with women farmers.

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