American Agri-Women officially began November 14, 1974, founded by four state women’s agriculture groups which had formed: Women for the Survival of Agriculture in Michigan; Wisconsin Women for Agriculture; Oregon Women for Agriculture; and the Washington Women for the Survival of Agriculture. Kansas Agri-Women (then United Farm Wives of Kansas) and Illinois Agri-Women (then Illinois Women for Agriculture) joined soon thereafter.
Today, state and commodity affiliate organizations as well as individual members throughout the country represent tens of thousands of women involved in agriculture. Throughout the history of AAW, our members have been actively involved and make a difference in legislative and regulatory matters at the local, state, and national levels. We are also instrumental in providing student and consumer education about agriculture, having initiated the National Ag in the Classroom program in 1981, under then USDA Secretary John Block, at the national level. We continue to be integrally involved in national and state Ag in the Classroom programs still today.
You can learn a little more about our history and early years, from a book about our first 20 years, “A Proud Heritage – A Precious Legacy.” Here is an excerpt: “Beset with many serious problems, American Agriculture, as a fragmented industry, lacked a single voice through which to speak to bring about effective change. Many felt agriculture needed to develop a voice to speak for the entire industry. Women were to play an important role in developing a united voice for agriculture. In 1969, a group of women in Oregon organized as a result of government regulations banning farmers burning fields. Oregon Women for Agriculture (OWA) stood alone, for their husbands were too busy farming to respond and fight the forces that were determining the course of American Agriculture.”
To read more, download “A Proud Heritage … A Precious Legacy.”
Continuing Our Legacy
Next year, American Agri-Women will reach the tremendous milestone of now celebrating 50 years of advocating for agriculture; educating legislators, regulators and consumers; and empowering its members.
AAW is the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business women. Our members are ranchers, farmers, producers, agri-business professionals, educators, consumers, students, researchers and many others. New national affiliates have joined us recently, strengthening our voice and influence.
In fact, AAW now has an international reach, visiting Embassies each year during our Annual AAW Fly-In to DC. Over the years we met on trade, culture, economy and current events with countries, including Israel, Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Norway, Brazil, Portugal, European Union, Ireland, Japan. the Netherlands to name a few.
“Be it educating students and consumers or taking members’ messages of concern and support to our local, state and national representatives, advocating for agriculture is what we do best. By coming together as an organization, with thousands of women representing agriculture, our voices are credible and often time, an important resource. We have a lifetime of first-hand experiences from our farms and ranches.”