One million of anything is a big deal, no matter what. The fact that it is the number used to represent the number of women employed in US agriculture is a bigger deal. Today, one-third of agricultural workers are women. As I look at the landscape of the agricultural community here in Sonoma County, I can’t help but burst with pride when I see so many women involved in a male-dominated industry.
We are so fortunate to have so many incredible women who have become beacons in this industry, but unfortunately, the road to success is not always an easy one for them. Women are oftentimes overlooked for positions of power, more likely to face discrimination, and are not always taken seriously. Interestingly enough, though, the women of Sonoma County agriculture are putting an end to that trend.
When I think about strong-minded women involved in agriculture in Sonoma County, I can’t help but think of Cheryl LaFranchi, a 3rd generation cattle farmer who owns and runs Oak Ridge Angus. She is a true steward of the land, who is working hard to preserve the life and land she grew up knowing.
My mind also flashes to Karen Bianchi Moreda, a 4th generation farmer, who has made her mark in the world of cheese. She grew up on a dairy farm and has brought new life to the dairy products industry. Not to mention her Estero Gold cheese is what dreams are made of. Karen has worked hard to build a sustainable manufacturing facility that will be a cornerstone for years to come.
Another young woman making her mark in Sonoma County is Jamie Mickelson, the owner and founder of Sonoma Mountain Herefords. Jamie started out as a little girl showing her Herefords in 4-H and FFA. Today she single-handedly runs a beef operation that prioritizes raising cattle humanely.
Not all of the women who are involved in the agricultural industry deal with 4 legged friends like myself. Case and point- Judy Jordan. Judy has established a nonprofit organization called “Wild Goat Edge.” This organization helps young women become more involved in the agricultural industry by offering mentorships and the opportunity to complete their Associate’s Degree at local colleges.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one person who has always been an inspiration to me, someone who has always shown me the value of hard work- my mom, Sharon. She is a 5th generation dairy farmer and is still involved with running her family dairy in Nicasio, as well as helping with the home dairy here in Santa Rosa.
I could go on and on about the fabulous women in this industry- but there are too many to list in one short article. I am honored to stand among them, and it gives me hope when I look at the young ladies who are the next generation. The future is female, and I cannot wait to see where they take us next!