Popular class for women farmers in Wisconsin - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Popular class for women farmers in Wisconsin

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Technology has changed the look of farming over the years, but there are other very important changes.  More women in Wisconsin are running farms.

The most recent U.S. Agriculture Census identifies close to 10,000 women as the principal operator of farms in Wisconsin.

"A program for women in farming, which immediately intrigued me," says farm owner, Michelle Sayre.

Annie's Project assists women who are either entering the field for the first time or expanding their sales.

"We're focusing on, not only beginning farmers, but those looking at direct marketing, the value added enterprise agriculture, which is becoming more popular here in western Wisconsin," says UW-Extension Agriculture Agent Katie Wantoch.

"Because you're trying to wade through it on your own and some of it is just incomprehensible," says Sayre.

For example, community supported agriculture is a tool allowing farmers to sell their products ahead of season and make fresh weekly deliveries.

"Something like poultry, pigs or the vegetable Community Supported Agriculture, CSA's, I think are becoming more popular and those that farm women are interested in running on their operations," says Wantoch.

Another element of the class explains how to handle the books of this business.

"Regulations and the financial aspects and those kinds of things seemed like they would be very helpful.  Those are the areas that are like walking through mud," says Sayre.

In this class there's one rule:  no men allowed.

"I think they feel more comfortable not having their male counterparts in the room so that they open up with the speakers and be able to learn from them and get the information they want," says Wantoch.

Because some are still breaking boundaries in their neighborhoods.

"All of the farms around us, except for one that I can think of right off the top of my head, are traditional dairy farms.  So you have the old guys and the tractors," says Sayre.

And then you have Michelle with her chickens and turkeys, "They seem to be a little amused by me."

Learning how to handle the future farmers as they grow their share of the market in Western Wisconsin.

Annie's project has one class remaining next week and is so popular they've had a waiting list since the first week.

The class is in Baldwin and is sponsored and grant funded so it's uncertain if it will be offered again, but UW-Extension agents are hopeful they can bring it back soon because of the demand.

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