We're already two weeks past the 2016 Farm Progress Show. I've recovered from the glorious chaos. If you're in agriculture, you know of this show...it draws people from across the globe to learn about current happenings in agriculture.
I have fond memories of the Farm Progress Show, some from my childhood involving questionable haircuts, Teva sandals, and grossing out my dad with strange 1990's candy.
The show came up a lot in conversation this summer, and I realized something. Many of my female agriculture colleagues skip it. Why? Is it because there are other things that need to get done? (Always.) No interest in watching your guy drool over the latest in combine innovation? (Yeah... that happens too.) Or, heaven forbid, do you think there's nothing interesting for you?
I understand the stereotype, but you know what? The show has a lot to offer women! To be candid, I really enjoy seeing the latest and greatest in equipment advances, but there are plenty women in ag that have no interest in all that. Here are a few of my favorite things from the show that every woman will appreciate.
#1- The Food
There is tasty goodness hiding all over the Farm Progress Show. A few foods that shine:
Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast from the Ogden Bulldog Builders. It sells out, so go early!
For lunch/snack/dessert (I have no boundaries regarding what I eat or when at the Farm Progress Show), check out Boone County Cattleman's tent for steak sandwiches. Throw some locally made Cookie's BBQ sauce on there and you're fueled up. Until you find the ice cream stand, at least.
Another favorite is the sweet corn and watermelon available in the Monsanto tent. Perfect food for the end of summer weather!
#2- International Visitors
Maybe it was because I was at the Farm Progress Show every day this year, or maybe it was because I tend to ask strangers questions a lot? But I was wonderfully surprised by the conversations I had with people from around the world. A Japanese farmer bought an Iowa Agri-Women shirt to take home with her. I spoke with farmers from Mexico. A couple of women from the Czech Republic took pictures of a lot of the equipment; they are amazed by how big the equipment is here. I was so thankful for their willingness to search for the right English words when I asked them questions (it's true, I know no Czech) to hear about their experiences in the Midwest.
The Argentinian farmers were a blast. They were spending a full week in the country, seeing some of the big cities and also local farms here. They were perplexed by certain aspects of our culture (they do not understand this "handshake" thing that we do!), and I asked them questions about the crops they grow and the relationship between farmers and consumers in Argentina.
#3- Women in Ag initiatives
WOOO HOOOO!! Women are a big deal in ag! You know it; I know it. Women make up 30% of farm operators! There were some great organizations at the Farm Progress Show this year with the sole purpose of recognizing, encouraging, and empowering women in agriculture:
-Iowa State University Extension's Women in Ag program
April Hemmes was one of 8 women recognized at the Farm Progress Show for her exceptional work in agriculture by Iowa State Extension's Women in Ag Program. Photo credit: Lori Lorenzen
The FarmHer trailer was at the show all week (CUTE gear for sale!), and also the founder, Marji Guyler-Alaniz.
Women from American Agri-Women and its Iowa Agri-Women affiliate were at the show every day in the Caterpillar tent. (Yes that's me on the left, with Iowa Agri-Women members Lori Lorenzen, Taylor Olson, and President Annette Sweeney in blue.)
#4- The Big Names in Ag
Many faces that are well-known in agriculture circles were at the show this year. Do you follow advances in plant genetics? Dr. Robb Fraley (CTO of Monsanto, responsible for many advances in agricultural biotechnology) was there. Dr. Adrian Percy (Bayer's head of Research and Development) was there. Like the FarmHer movement? Marji Guyler-Alaniz, (the President and Founder of FarmHer) was there. Follow farm auctions? Machinery Pete was there. Keep up with consumer education about farming on social media? Farm Babe was there. Interested in politics and hot topics in ag? Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey was there. Curious about initiatives around the state of Iowa? Iowa State's Vice President of Extension and Outreach, Cathann Kress, was there. The beauty of the show is that these people are taking in the surroundings just like you, so they are in an approachable environment and there is a good chance they can spend time talking to you. It's an incredible opportunity to connect!
Left to right: Michelle Miller (aka Farm Babe), Eric (my farmer), Phil Pitzenberger (Iowa farmer and agricultural drone operator), and Annette Sweeney...all chatting about who knows what!
#5- Issues in Ag
There were many great panels on current sustainability goals in agriculture, with discussions involving people that are setting great examples across Iowa and beyond. Soil quality, water quality (as well as water quantity) were a few of the issues covered.
Iowa Corn held panels daily on soil health and water quality issues. Pictures left to right: Moderator WHO-TV Agribusiness Report Host David Geiger, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Iowa Corn Growers Association Director Dean Meyer, and Iowa Corn Animal Agriculture and the Environment Committee Member Annette Sweeney.
#6- Beekman's Ice Cream
I completely understand why there is a line to get Beekman's every day. It's amazing! Their homemade ice cream is made by five small motors that churn out five-gallon batches. Those suckers run all day long, too! I was there at 8:45 one morning and there was already a short line! (Yes, I did have a root beer float for breakfast.) Their ice cream is perfectly creamy and rich; it's pure goodness and I will be stalking their trailer from now on at local events. Beekman's lifer right here.
So, next time the Farm Progress Show comes around, go, my women friends! It will be well worth your time, and I'm confident you will leave feeling thankful that you went. The agriculture industry is realizing more than ever the important roles women play in farming, and I expect events like this will continue to increase their offerings for women.
Did I miss something awesome from this year's show? Tell me about it!
Hello from the heartland! I'm Krystal... a farming wife and mom. I believe in living life and living it well. My Christmas tree is up year-round, usually half decorated. I'm a lover of logic and laughter, full-fat dairy products, photography, and starting off my days with God's hand-crafted Iowa sunrises.