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Phyllis Wood is part of growing number of female farmers across the country. Wood operates a commercial cow/calf operation in the county.

The United States Census of Agriculture reported a decline of male farmers by 1.7 percent while female farmers increased by 27 percent nationwide. The USCA said that women are becoming more involved in all aspects of agribusiness and are developing innovative strategies to grow their enterprise and the communities around them.

You can even see the increase of female farmers in Chester County with farmers Phyllis Wood and Pat Tucker whom both have commercial cow calf operations.

They both have seen and experienced the increase of female farmers as they are more accepted in society in today’s time.

Wood, who is the lead farmer on her farm, also believes that female farmers have increased arguably because, instead of working on farms in the shadow of their husbands, they have taken on full responsibility as farmers.

Besides being welcomed into the farming community, they have other reasons why they believe the numbers of women in agriculture have increased such as new developments in the labor equipment making one not have to be as strong to do the tough farming and more.

“I think it’s becoming a niche for them,” Wood said.

Tucker mentioned how banks are willing to take risks and lend money to women now, too, which is needed if they are starting a farm.

Three years ago, Steve Rickman, UT extension agent, started teaching the Advanced Master Beef Producer Program, an annual program that uses a combination of hands-on and classroom teaching to gain knowledge in current beef cattle practices, and, he mentioned how he was almost lucky to have just one female in his class when he started. Now he says women are about a fifth of the class.

Wood is witness to this change. “When I took the class 20 years ago, I was the only woman that took the course,” she said.

Rickman says that the increased interest in farmers from females is even seen in grade school and college. “In school our girls (girls in Chester County 4-H Livestock Club) are more into it than our guys generally,” he said. “Universities and agricultural programs are recognizing females more as well.”

The community and society though have increased their acceptance for female farmers and that’s the conclusion they came up with for the high number of them in the industry.

“Years ago, it was hard to come to a man to ask for information. They thought you were silly,” Wood said. “But now, as a woman, I think it’s always someone supporting you.”

Both Wood and Tucker definitely are great examples of female farmers as they really love what they do.

“I rake hay. I see it in those little rows. And when you see a new baby calf… That’s great,” Tucker said.

“You are your own boss,” Wood said. “You’re outside. And you see your results.”

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