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Women Own Half the Farmland in America. They Don’t Earn Half the Profits.

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Institutional barriers have kept women out of agribusiness for decades.

Women own half the farmland in the United States. Nearly 60 percent of farms in the country have at least one woman at the helm. And yet, according to Pacific Standard’s analysis, farms run by men earned almost twice as much on average as those run by women in 2017, the latest year for which federal data is available. Despite record numbers of women in agriculture, the gender wage gap persists.

The reality is, of course, more complicated. For example, women tend to own smaller farms that typically make less money. Many female farmers and landowners are trying out new approaches to agriculture—making “value-added products” like jams and cheeses, renting to conservation-minded tenants—that aren’t always valued in the U.S. food system. Still, things are improving: U.S. Department of Agriculture census data shows women’s sales have increased across every class of farm over the last three decades.

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