On October 20th, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden “invited a small group of leaders from almost all corners of the ag sector to join at the White House and discuss the future of women in agriculture”. We became aware of this meeting and wanted to get involved in the discussion ourselves.
Last week Ms. Harden visited Iowa. USDA – Rural Development’s state director, Bill Menner set up a meeting and on Friday, November 14th the WLL State Team and Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) spoke with Ms. Harden.
It was an excellent, though brief meeting. The Deputy told us a little about herself and her work. Prior to becoming Deputy, she was the Secretary’s Chief of Staff. She strongly believes in women and the need for equal representation in agriculture. She is from a peanut farm in Georgia where her parents continue to farm.
We gave her the skinny of WLL. How we began as a cooperation of agencies from the SOC, including those around the table. Partnerships with local agencies of NRCS, FSA, IDALS, ISU Extension, etc. help with our local group successes. We shared a copy of the new guide, brochure, newsletter, ‘top 10 for 10 year anniversary’ handout, and the draft of the RBEG report. We shared with her that our group includes research at the Leopold Center as well.
We went on to explain that we empower the local woman to form their groups, typically at county levels to work on their own. We talked about their learning sessions & gave examples.
Deputy Secretary Harden asked how people know about us, WLL & WFAN. We shared that through outreach by local agencies, FSA, NRCS, IDALS, ISU Extension partnerships & Annie’s Project, along with the local outreach that WLL groups do themselves, we communicate who we are.
We wanted to lift up WLL’s purpose, not so much our history, as the Deputy was interested in what are we doing for women in agriculture. She wanted to know how she can help!
Bridget Holcomb spoke next about the education offered to women in Iowa, program goals and accomplishments of WFAN. She asked Ms. Harden to help spread the word about Iowa’s outreach to women in ag; to replicate this in other states.
Although our meeting was short, the conversation has begun. In addition to our meeting, WLL state team member, Heather Honkomp was able to have lunch with Ms. Harden. They also toured the federal building, and Ms. Harden spoke with USDA-NRCS.
Check out photos from the meeting!
(photos by Darin Leach, USDA-RD)