Women play an integral part in farming, either as a principal operator or as a secondary operator.
In 2019, more than half (51 percent) of all farming operations in the United States had a woman principal or at least one woman secondary operator.
Women were primarily responsible for the day-to-day operation decisions-the “principal operator”-on 14 percent of farms.
In 37 percent of operations, women were “secondary operators,” meaning they were involved in decisions for the operation but were not the principal operators. The share of principal farm operators who were women varied by commodity specializations.
In 2019, the two largest shares of women principal operators were found on farms specializing in poultry (31 percent) and other livestock (about 30 percent).
Operations specializing in dairy production had the largest share of operations with at least one woman secondary operator, about 54 percent.
The smallest share (about 33 percent) of women operators, either principal or at least one secondary, was found on cotton farms. Among operations with at least one woman operator, 78 percent of the women were the principal operator’s spouse and worked on the farm.
This chart is found in the Economic Research Service report, America’s Diverse Family Farms: 2020 Edition, released December 2020. It also appears in the June 2021 Amber Waves article, “Women Identified as Operators on 51 Percent of U.S. Farms in 2019.”