The Dirt

Beginning Women Farmers and Ranchers Seminar in Central Texas

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Events Empower Women in Agriculture and Educate Them  on Principles, Practices, and Benefits of Holistic Management and Sustainable Food Systems.

Holistic Management International (HMI), an Albuquerque based non-profit organization with deep roots in Texas, is working in partnership with Sustainable Food Center to support Texas women farmers and ranchers with a series of seminars  throughout the state as part of HMI’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program.  Four one-day seminars held in different regions will give participants a better understanding of how Holistic Management can help build a sustainable future, the market for local foods, and how they can take part in the three-year Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program.  The first of the seminars will be offered on September 19 at the McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Cedar Creek near Austin.

This event will focus on educating women farmers and ranchers on how they can participate in sustainable and local food systems, and provide introductory information about how to build successful businesses by utilizing the principles and practices of Holistic Management, a whole-farm planning system that benefits the land, animals, and people.  The seminars will teach values-based goal setting, the appropriate use of tools, as well as financial, land, and biological planning and monitoring.

“A great need exists for a program that focuses on beginning women ranchers and farmers,” said Peter Holter, chief executive officer for HMI.  “Currently, more than 942,000 farms are run by women throughout the country and we are excited to learn that the amount of young women getting into farming is growing.  According to the Women and Food Agriculture Network, the agriculture industry has seen a 30 percent increase nationally in the number of women run farms and ranches since 2002.    If you look at demographic, social, and economic factors, they indicate that number will continue to rise throughout Texas in the coming years.”  

Andrew Smiley is the Farm Direct Project director for Sustainable Food Center and will be speaking at the Texas events.  He has more than 15-years experience working in sustainable agriculture and food systems, and is an active supporter of sustainable food systems throughout Texas and the U.S., both professionally and as a volunteer with several organizations.  “Small-scale sustainable producers contribute greatly to our economy, our environment, and our culture,” said Smiley.  “I am honored to be a part of the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers program as it expands into Texas and to help attendees understand the potential individual and community benefits of getting involved in a local and sustainable food system.”

The program will feature a panel of producers, including Betsy Ross of Betsy Ross Grass-fed Beef and Ross Farm in Granger, organic farmer Erin Flynn of Green Gate Farm in Austin, and goat-dairy owner and cheese maker Chrissy Omo of CKC Farms in Blanco.  The keynote speaker for the Austin event is Susan Baggett, state resource conservationist for NRCS in Texas. Susan was raised on a small family farm in Chambers County near Anahuac, TX, attended Texas A&M University in the first class of open enrollment for women, where she earned her BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Management. She earned a Master of Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University and has worked with farmers and ranchers over much of Texas and southwest Oklahoma. Susan has followed her passions to the one of the top positions in her field, currently leading the range, agronomy, forestry, wildlife and plant materials areas within NRCS.

For more information, including registration, visit and click on the HMI Workshops link.

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