New York Agri-Women Meet-Up Planned for Central New York

May 26th, 2012 @ 3:57 pm by Sheila Marshman

New York Agri-Women has planned a meet-up for Central New York, June 13th 2012 at Tim’s Pumpkin Patch, 2901 Rose Hill Rd, Marietta, NY at 7:00pm. Members and non-members are invited for an evening of networking, friendship, and good eats. Women are encouraged to bring an edible or drinkable New York product of their choice to share during this festive event.

Highlights of the evening include speeches by Julie Patterson and Erica Leubner. Patterson, the organization’s Membership Coordinator will discuss the networking, personal development and leadership opportunities available through New York Agri-Women. Leubner will speak about her trip to Tokyo, Japan, as well as the local and international relationships she has fostered through New York Agri-Women.

New York Agri-Women is open to all women who are interested in Agriculture and the food system. According to member Kim Cherry, the Treasure of the CIDEC, LLC an agricultural business in Auburn, NY., “New York Agri-Women is a place for women to come together to educate themselves, the consumers, elected officials, and members of the agriculture community about the issues that affect New York food and agriculture”. Membership consists of female farm business owners, educators, agribusinesses, consumers and those interested in food and agriculture.

There is no fee to attend this event. To register please contact either Erica Leubner at Erica@timspumpkinpatch.com or 315-673-9209 and or Julie Patterson at
julie.patterson@wwpfi.com or 315-729-3163.

Leadership At Its Best, by Deborah Schmidt

May 1st, 2012 @ 12:05 pm by Sheila Marshman
Inspiring, self-awareness and fun are some of the words that come to mind when I look back at my experience at the” Leadership at its Best Conference”, hosted by American Agri Women and Sygenta on April 16 thru 20th. Eighteen women involved with agriculture were chosen to attend. We spent a week together in Minneapolis, Minnesota learning the skills of leadership. I learned a lot from others that attended, picked up some expert advice and made some new friendships along the way.

These eighteen women who attended were from across the United States, each pursuing different types of agriculture. The gamut of agriculture spread from potatoes in Maine to dairy and vegetables in New York and sheep and agricultural banking in Ohio. There was also corn, soybean, cattle ranching, rodeo and cover crops from Kansas, Arizona, Wyoming and Colorado. There was also an ag banker from California, fruit grower from Oregon and a rice grower from Arkansas. Although our farming practices may be different, many of the agricultural issues we face are very similar. Some of the issues were weather, drought, water, immigration, land rights, pesticide use, transition on the family farm and estate planning. We had many heart to heart talks sharing our knowledge and experiences, as well as many laughs.

We had terrific leaders to guide us during the conference. We participated in workshops that dealt with personality traits, some of us agreed with what we learned about ourselves and some were surprised by the results. These personality tests helped us to understand what kind of leaders we were and identify areas for growth.
One workshop was about speech writing and delivery. We had ten minutes to write on an issue and then speak in front of an audience. I was all jitters and nerves, but learned I could do it. As it turns out, if you’re passionate enough about an issue, it comes pretty naturally, which makes it that much easier to share your thoughts with others. We also did a mock television interview on Ag. Issues and our leader asked us some tough questions. My topic was traditional farming vs. organic farming. This is a topic I felt very comfortable discussing, I can tell you I chocked at some points. I learned a lot from it and wished we had time to do it one more time. Watching others face the same types of challenging questions on different ag issues helped me as well.

Minnesota Crop Land

Business Etiquette was also a very informative workshop. We learned what to wear, how to shake hands, where to place utensils at the table and we are allowed to tell a business associate if they have spinach in their teeth (in a nice way of course)! Our Social Media class was full of ideas on how to use your website, face book, and twitter.

The Syngenta leaders took very good care of us during our stay in Minnesota. The hotel was comfortable and the food was great! I especially enjoyed the skywalks to walk the city of Minneapolis. I also appreciated a visit to one of the Syngenta farms and seeing some of the Minnesota country side.

Leadership Training

Within the four days together, we became a close group. We supported each other with the skills and tasks that were required during the leadership classes. There was always a kind word of recognition or appreciation. We left there as graduates of the “Syngenta Leadership at its Best Program”. I think we all felt a little stronger and more prepared for what the Ag. world in our state or communities will dish out to us. I for one knew that I left with a feeling of support and twenty new friends to exchange ideas with. It was a win, win, experience!

AAW Syngenta Leadership At Its Best Program

April 17th, 2012 @ 2:01 pm by rebecca_snyder

Excitement is building at the 2012 AAW Syngenta Leadership At Its Best program (LAIB). This year’s program will take place April 16th through the 19th in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Sheila Marshman, a Professor at Morrisville State College and President-elect of New York Agri-Women is one of the 15 participants selected for the program. The week long program is packed with activities allowing participants to experience leadership development and relationship building.

The LAIB program focuses on the policy process, media training, communication styles, public speaking and leadership skills. Program speakers include Dr. Rob Moorman, a nationally recognized scholar and presenter on Transformational Leadership. Rick Roundtree, the founder and President of Rick Rountree Communications, Inc. will speak on media relations. Global expectations in agriculture, social media, a tour and demonstrations of Syngenta’s Stanton Minnesota facility, and public speaking for advocacy will round out the program.


In 2010, Cari Rincker, the founder of New York Agri-Women and an attorney from NYC participated in the LAIB program. According to Rincker, “the program was excellent. I gave my first mock television interview and learned all about personality styles. Syngenta rolled out the red carpet for us and were amazing hosts.” Rincker still maintains contact with many of the participants in the class of 2010.

Please look for pictures and blog updates throughout the week from Sheila Marshman.

Watch the Livestream from AAW’s Mid-Year Meeting

March 30th, 2012 @ 3:17 pm by Cari Rincker

I enjoyed watching the livestream today of the American Agri-Women(“AAW”) Mid-Year Meeting in Nebraska City, Nebraska (between Omaha and Lincoln).  Tomorrow is the last day of the mid-year meeting.  If you are a member of the agriculture community, I recommend taking some time today to watch the livestream!  I think it is great that food and agriculture organizations, like AAW, are making video livestreams available.  AAW focuses on policies at the Mid-Year meeting before its annual fly-in to Washington D.C.

Although it cannot replace attending a conference in person, it is a great way to stay tuned into the discussion at the convenience of your home/office.  I encourage other food/ag organization to follow in AAW’s footsteps making information from conferences and meetings available online.  Perhaps New York Agri-Women can try to make this available at our next annual meeting in the winter of 2013!


Photos of Sheila Marshman Presenting at the UN

March 15th, 2012 @ 5:28 pm by Cari Rincker

Hitomi Tomizawa from WELI submitted some great photographs of President-Elect Sheila Marshman presenting at the United Nations.  You can view a few of them below and the reminder on our Facebook page here.  Great job Sheila representing NYAW and U.S. agriculture!

Three AAW Scholarships Worth Noting

February 29th, 2012 @ 9:05 am by Cari Rincker

Happy Leap-Year Wednesday.  There are three scholarships from American Agri-Women worth bringing to your attention:

Hope to see you at the Annual Meeting March 2-3 and or the Agri-Tour on March 5th!

Mark Your Calendar – Upcoming AAW Events

February 27th, 2012 @ 9:00 am by Cari Rincker

American Agri-Women’s 2012 Mid-Year Meeting, March 29 – April 1, Lied Lodge, Nebraska City, NE. This meeting will provide members the opportunity to examine and update the policy positions adopted by AAW to take them to Washington, DC, in June.  The speakers will enlighten those in attendance!  Hotel information is available at this link.  Hotel Reservation deadline is March 8th.

American Agri-Women’s 2012 Fly-In, Washington DC, June. Tentatively set for June 4-7, 2012. This is an opportunity for the AAW Membership to get an insider’s look at agencies in Washington DC.  Members are informed of the relevant issues being addressed by Congress and encouraged to meet with their legislatures face to face.  First time attendees are encouraged to apply for scholarships!

American Agri-Women 2012 Convention, Denver CO, November 8 – 10. Colorado Agri-Women invite members from across the nation to join them by “Rushing West – to seek our fortune in Agriculture”.  The convention planning committee is diligently working to develop an agenda that will inspire attendees to continue their efforts, plan for the future and advocate for agriculture!  The convention will be held at the Denver Mariott.  Make your reservation by August 8th to receive free internet and parking.


The Road to the UN: Draft 1

January 31st, 2012 @ 9:25 am by Sheila Marshman

The below post is a first draft of my presentation that I will give at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  I would love your feedback!

Women in U.S. Agriculture

The role women play in U.S. Agriculture is as diverse as the industry itself. We are educators, entrepreneurs, executives, board members, and stewards of the land.  As diverse as we are, we are united by our unique ability to nurture, as well as our common desire to preserve our agricultural heritage, protect the environment, educate consumers, and ensure a safe and prosperous food supply.

The global food system has many consumers demanding to know more about the origin of their food, and women are rising to the occasion to meet those demands.  The 2007 USDA Agricultural census reported that 14 percent of our nation’s 2.2 million farms are owned by women and more than 30 percent of U.S. farm operators are women.  The total number of women operators increased 19 percent and the total number of farms owned by women increased by 5 percent from the 2002 census.  Those numbers are expected to double in the 2012 agricultural census.

Here in America we have witnessed unprecedented growth in local food and marketing opportunities. The number of farmers’ markets rose to 5,274 in 2009, up from 2,756 in 1998 and 1,755 in 1994 (USDA).  In 2005, there were 1,144 community-supported agriculture organizations (CSAs) in operation, up from 400 in 2001 and 2 in 1986. The greatest success stories of farmers markets and CSAs originates here in NYC with the GreenMarkets.  What started 30 years ago with 12 has grown into 54 markets, 230 farm families and 30,000 acres of farmland protected from development.


The GreenMarket Farmers Markets have helped change regional agriculture and the regional food system; it has revitalized rural communities and urban spaces, improved consumer health, provided fresh and nutritious food to those most in need through EBT/Food Stamps and  Youthmarket  programs, supported immigrant farmers,  encouraged crop diversity, educated  school children and city residents about the importance of regional agriculture, provided a wholesale opportunity for medium sized farms, inspired new culinary trends, and influenced chefs and eaters in one of the culinary capitals in the world (growncy.org).

American farm women are also stepping forward in many leadership capacities, in administration, public affairs, public relations and education, just to name a few areas. Our current NY Agri-women President and founder Cari Rincker is a farm owner, NYC Food and Agriculture attorney, as well as a leadership board member for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Young Producers’ Council. Member Judi Whittaker, a farm owner from Whitney Point, NY spends countless hours advocating for food and agriculture both at the local and national levels through her work with the American Farm Bureau. Advances made in all fields by the feminist movement have helped women make a difference in agriculture.

We are united by our passion to educate the consumer. We bring consumers together at our farms, we promote healthy eating and exercise to children, and we adopt classrooms through our Ag in the Classroom project. NY Agri-woman and farm owner Chris Fesko has rolled all these activities into one, through the creation of her On the Farm Discovery Center.  Annually, she hosts thousands of visitors to her farm to learn about food and agriculture while also learning math science and language arts. This is in addition to the numerous award winning on farm educational videos that she produces and markets around the world.  Chris also serves on her town’s board and is a director for Farm Credit East, the largest agricultural lender in the Northeastern part of the United States.


American agricultural women are blessed with a strong rural infrastructure supporting their personal and professional development.  Our Higher Education system and the Farm Credit Banking System are two notable areas. Here in New York State we are blessed with several colleges of agriculture and technology including my place of employment Morrisville State College.  We offer numerous applied agriculture degree to young men and women planning to return to their home farm, start their own farms and or enter careers in the agriculture industry.  Most recently, agricultural business  development student Jenn Masters worked with Nelson Farms, the college’s small scale food processing facility, to create Country Crunch using a recipe developed by her grandmother. Jenn will graduate in May with both a degree and an agricultural business in hand.

While access to credit is often a limiting factor for women who are interested in agriculture, here in America we have the Farm Credit System, a farmer owned agricultural cooperative. Farm Credit was established by Congress 1916 to provide a reliable source of credit for the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Today, the system provides more than one-third of the credit needed by those who live and work in rural America.  New York Agri-Women member Jan Bitter is a Vice President for Farm Credit East, which serves farmers in New York, New Jersey and parts of New England.  Jan notes that in her almost 30 years at Farm Credit the role of women on the farm and in agribusiness has changed dramatically. In the early 1980’s, most of the women who worked on farms were unpaid family laborers.  Women in agribusiness roles knew that there were some farms that they couldn’t visit on their own, because the owner refused to do business with a woman.

Today there is a growing number of women owning and managing farms.  Once a woman has a track record of operating a profitable farm business, access to credit is not an issue. Farm Credit recently initiated FarmStart, a program to support talented, hardworking individuals entering agriculture. FarmStart assists beginning farmers and new cooperatives through their start-up years by providing working capital investments of up to $50,000 to get their  business off the ground.  Farm Credit also offers incentives to young, beginning and small farmers to help them  manage their farm operations.

Our combined efforts have helped US agriculture become the most developed in the world. Through our production efforts we provide food and fiber for the growing domestic and international markets. We supply the feedstock for an expanding bioenergy sector, and provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration to a nation increasingly concerned with the environment (Amberwaves, 2011). In part, it is because of US agriculture that the food needs of the world’s growing population will be met. We are doing so with a renewed interest in social responsibility, food safety, and environmental stewardship.


Women in agribusiness are now such a familiar sight on farms that they can’t be turned away at the farm gate.  However, large scale corporate agricultural business in the US is still hugely dominated by a white male workforce that is traditionally in charge of decision-making and operation. We have great hopes that NY Agri-women members like Molly Zorn, a National Account Manager for Genex Cooperative and Rebecca Snyder, our incoming New York Agri-Women President and Animal Nutritionist for the global powerhouse Cargill, will be successful at making positive strides to break through the glass ceiling, paving the way for future generations of women to make decisions about agriculture and the global food system.

Although our success as entrepreneurs in the local food system is noteworthy, we lack the infrastructure related to the distribution of local and regional food.  Currently we are not able to move local food into mainstream markets in a cost-effective manner.  Finally, because most small farmers must combine their products with other farmers’ products to make processing and shipping more economical, challenges are posed for product quality, consistency, and traceability. Without traceability in place, wholesale buyers must assume higher levels of risk and liability in cases of foodborne illness.

Food safety issues will continue to be at the forefront of any local food model.  It is my hopes that we can learn from one another to collectively develop a safe, secure and economically viable local food model that can be applied to all regions of the world.  As I tell my students, it has been proven time and time again that a healthy rural economy equates to a healthy national economy, creating a win-win situation for all women in all countries.

A Fork in the Road to the United Nations

January 26th, 2012 @ 12:23 pm by Sheila Marshman

As many of you know, New York Agri-Women will participate in the 54th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Particularly, I will represent NY Agri-Women as a panel member relating to the topic of:  “Women’s’ Role in Food Security and Sustainable Development: Partnership between Rural and Urban Women”.  This very broad topic,  has led me to reach out to each of you, in search of a specific direction, one which may or may not represent our organization, and or the majority of women in agriculture.


Beginning a talk at the United Nations with a statement like:   in order for women to strengthen their health and wealth, they must first reclaim the food system, is sure to be a popular statement amongst those who advocate for a locavor diet. The popularity will continue amongst those who subscribe to the theory that the so called western diet of the United States promotes lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and childhood obesity.   Supporters will defend the statement with both economic and environmental statistics that a local food system is better for the rural economy.   However, such a statement does not tell the story of how the changing structure of the food system has led to an abundant and efficient food system which has reduced agriculture’s environmental foot print.

U.S agriculture is by far the most developed in the entire world.  Through our production efforts we provide food and fiber for the growing domestic and international markets, we supply the feedstock for an expanding bioenergy sector, and provides ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration to a nation increasingly concerned with the environment (Amberwaves, 2011).   In part, it is because of US agriculture that the food needs of the world’s growing population will be met.  With advanced technologies, America’s farmers are producing more than they were in the 60’s and 70’s. They are doing so with a renewed interest in social responsibility, food safety, and environmental stewardship. Finally, advances in marketing practices such as the use of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange allow farmers to build sophisticated models to assist them in taking the price risk out of agriculture. The combined practices of US farmers have led to efficient agricultural practices and lower global food costs for the consumer.   Thus, one could argue that US production agriculture has created a global win-win situation for all, or has it?

Thus, I am reaching out to each of you and asking, what is our story? What is the story we want to tell about how we as American women involved in agriculture promote the food system of the United States? How do we teach our children and the consumers the importance of agriculture, foods and healthy diets?   Are we truly environmentally friendly in our efforts to feed the world through our food system? This is our time to shine and tell our story. T he question is, what is the story we want to tell?


Farming Our Future Conference

January 14th, 2012 @ 2:43 pm by Karen DiPeri

Join me, Columbia County Chair, NY Agri-Women at the first annual Farming Our Future conference on February 25th 2012.

Steffen Schneider, Director of Farm Operations at Hawthorne Valley Farm, will offer his thoughts on the past, present, and future of agriculture both locally and globally in his keynote address: “Agri-culture 3.0: An Agricultural Narrative for the Future”. According to Schneider, “Agriculture has the potential to provide real solutions to many of the challenges we face as a society and as individuals. Farms in Columbia County and the Hudson Valley already are and can become even greater pioneers of this future. Can we develop a narrative that will inspire and drive such a development?”

For more information or to register visit www.farmingourfuture.org

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