Are You a Farm Wife, a Farminist, or Both?Country Guide Senior Editor Maggie Van Camp is a widow, mom, journalist, and chicken farmer who coined a new term at CAFA’s (Canadian Association of Farm Advisors) Update in Guelph earlier this year. Maggie proposed that the culture of agriculture needs a new mindset to speak to the many women farm operators in our country; women who run farms and are more than farm wives. She wants to see an equal opportunity approach, not unlike feminism. Her term is “Farminist,” which as she defines it is someone who believes in gender equality for farmers. Catchy and true, I think – so much so that I suggested a new line of t-shirts be donned in the field saying “I am a Farminist.”

Do you encourage your daughter to attend AG college, wield a welder, and drive the sprayer? My neighbor is a dad to four smart daughters, no sons, and has heaps of farm work that any of his daughters can tackle.  Maggie suggests, “The message should be that we pick the best successor – regardless of gender and that we can train our girls too.” I love that. Moreover, she goes on to suggest that, “we also need to teach our boys how to do the more traditionally female jobs like cooking and how to handle the accounts, etc.”

As a farm family coach I see young women anxious to do the books, make cropping plans, and farm their spouse’s  farm as well as their dad’s operation. I also see women who are weary nursing babies and trying to keep up their pre-parent pace of managing a dairy. Women in agriculture are a force to be acknowledged, which is why I phone my accountant to ask that her large firm changes their succession advertising brochures, which do not have images of women in the wheat fields or at the computer. This is 2016 as the young farmers at the Ag Excellence conference declared.

Thirty-five years ago this month, on July 4th (Independence Day …ha!), I became Mrs. Elaine Froese, or Mrs. Wes Froese if you really want to be traditional. I married the love of my life, a farmer. My dad, a farmer, expressed his delight at our wedding reception that I had chosen a man in the same field as Dad (pun intended.) So I became a farm wife, moving into my mother-in-law’s former home in September. For 35 years I have planted a garden, created hot meals to deliver to the field, raised two loving adult children, run for parts, and deposited the cheques. I do not do the farm books and never will as attention to detail is not my forte. My 21 years of writing income from Grainews was to hire a bookkeeper. Words are my friend; accounting programs are not.

Lacey Gerbrandt of Emerge Ag Solutions had a great idea to host a farm women’s conference in Saskatoon called Connect. This annual conference hit the nerve of celebrating the many hats that farm women wear. Farm women long for connection and recognition. This was the perfect spot to laugh, cry, share stories, and be affirmed for the myriad of roles that farm women play today.

[Tweet “#Farm women, you’re no longer just a farm wife. Here’s why you’re a #farminist.”]

I shared a table with Billi J. Miller, a writer and photographer who just released her book Farmwives in Profile. 17 Women: 17 Candid Questions About Their Lives. Billi wrote the book as a tribute to the women in her community who have mentored and encouraged her, a new farm wife near Lloydminster Alberta. It was a delight to read their responses to the challenges that they experienced and their legacy. I did not envy the woman who mentioned shoveling a truckload of grain with a hoistless truck! Farm women work hard at many roles alongside their farming husbands. They have food in their freezers for unexpected company, and they want their children to live with love and respect for family and hard work.

Would You Call Yourself a Farminist, a Farm Wife, or Both?

What does being a farm woman mean to you?

For me, it is both. I want to see all young people work as a team to make agriculture their career and create success for their farm team. I also recognize that some women who are married to farmers have no interest in the farm, which is a bit of a red flag for the parents who expect Mrs. Junior Farm Wife to start taking on the roles of her mother-in-law.

We also need to recognize that family living takes $50K /year or more, and the operating line of credit for the farm grows with increasing input costs. Perhaps you see your key role as the operating line of revenue for family living, so you go off to town for your day job and then roll home for your farm job. This is exhausting to young moms and tiring for grandmas who still try to “do it all .“ The amount that farm women spend on family living versus what is spent on the farm can be a source of tension or triumph if there is financial transparency between the generations. It also helps if the farm is profitable and has positive cash flow.

A farminist sees their career as agriculture, and they want respect for their skills, not jokes about their gender. Ag policy organizations and farm suppliers would be wise to check if their messaging and branding resonates with the many career agriculture women. Farm wives are not married to the farm as their label suggests, they are committed to their families and the success of their farm partners. They are team players with many different skill sets. Farminists and farm women all want to have a voice in decision making on the farm.

The farminist who sat at my table in seeding time was adamant that she be recognized for her abilities to drive equipment, do mechanics, and plan production.

“Being a farminist is also about being proud of who we are and what we do, regardless of gender, race or culture. I believe accepting and promoting diversity on our farms is paramount to a successful future.” – Maggie Van Camp.

Celebrate who you are! I will see all of you Farm Wives, Farminists…or both, in Saskatoon at Connect Ag this November 1st!

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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