Female farmers thrive in male-dominated field

Estate management makes difference

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Jennifer Benne and her husband, Dan, married in 1976 after meeting through a mutual friend. Over the next 13 years, they lived in St. Charles County while accumulating farmland in Audrain County.

In 1989, they moved to their farmland and began planting corn, wheat and soybeans. They raised four children — two sons and two daughters — and planned to form a partnership with both sons when they finished college.

In 2007, a year before the youngest son graduated, Dan died, and Jennifer found herself with a farm to run.

According to a 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture census report, women were principal operators of just 12 percent of the farms in the state — 12,754 of 107,825 farms.

Estate planning can help in the process, but farming estates can be especially complicated for those who own or lease land, livestock, machinery, buildings and property.

Benne credits her smooth transition to her husband, who took the time to educate himself about estate planning matters.

But not everyone is as prepared as the Bennes were. In Missouri and elsewhere, women can take classes to learn more about estate management and other farm-related issues.

One such program is Annie’s Project, a nationwide effort provided by MU Extension.

Story from, additional information at the Columbia Missourian

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