Characteristics of Ohio Women in Agriculture

By: PhD student Rae Ju and Professor Ani Katchova, Farm Income Enhancement Chair, in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE), and Nanette L. Neal and Sarah Noggle, Extension Educators in Agriculture and Natural Resources in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Department of Extension at the Ohio State University.

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Using data from the 2022 Census of Agriculture, the characteristics of female farmers in Ohio are examined and compared to the overall farming population.

Profile of Ohio Women Farmers

The majority of agricultural producers in Ohio are male farmers, constituting approximately two-thirds of the total, while female farmers represent about one-third. The percentage of female farmers has remained stable, with a minor decrease from 33.6% to 33.1% between 2017 and 2022.

The geographic distribution of female farmers throughout Ohio’s counties was also examined. Counties in Northwest and Southeast Ohio have a lower number of female farmers, with the number of female farmers being less than 500. However, the counties in Southeast Ohio had a relatively high proportion of female farmers, exceeding 33% of the total farming population. In contrast, the counties in Northwest Ohio had a lower percentage of female farmers (less than 33%).

The average age of female farmers in Ohio was 55.4 years, while the average age of male farmers was slightly higher at 56.8 years in 2022. Regarding the age distribution of female farmers, the data suggest a predominant concentration of farmers in the 55-64 age range. In age groups below 55 years old, the percentage of female farmers is slightly higher than that of male farmers. On the other hand, the percentage of male farmers is slightly higher than female farmers for farmers that are 65 or older. Overall, the age distribution pattern is similar for female and male farmers.

The farming occupation and off-farm employment reveal distinct differences between male and female farmers in Ohio. Only 31% of female farmers in Ohio considered farming their primary occupation in 2022, suggesting a reliance on various income sources. Additionally, 40% of female farmers in Ohio were actively involved in off-farm work for over 200 days per year.

Characteristics of Farms Operated by Female Producers

In 2022, there were 40,269 farms operated by female farmers and 72,184 farms operated by male farmers. The average size of farms operated by female farmers was 132.9 acres, in contrast to the larger average of 185.4 acres operated by male farmers. Female farmers were more likely than male farmers to operate farms that are smaller than 50 acres, while the reverse is true for farms greater than 50 acres.

Female farmers in Ohio operate a variety of farm types, including crop production, animal production, and aquaculture. Over half of the farms operated by female producers in Ohio specialized in crop farming. Specifically, 24% of the farms operated by female producers specialized in oilseed and grain, followed by 22% in other crop farming. In addition, 15% of the farms operated by female producers specialized in beef cattle ranching and farming and 14% specialized in aquaculture and other animal production in 2022. Female and male producers are more likely to specialize in crop production than livestock production.  About 55% of farms operated by female farmers in Ohio specialized in crop production which is lower than the 63% of farms operated by male farmers.

Examining land ownership patterns, full ownership was more common among female farmers, with 80% holding full ownership of their operated acres. On the other hand, 17% of female farmers were part owners of the operated acres compared to 26% for male farmers.

Female farmers predominantly appear in the lower sales categories, specifically those with sales under $25,000. Conversely, in the higher sales brackets, the representation of female farmers decreases significantly. Only 9% of female farmers had sales between $100,000 and $499,999, and 6% had sales above $500,000.

Farms with female producers in Ohio had $146,744, while farms with male producers had $213,060 in market value of agricultural products sold and government payments in 2022. Using the USDA’s definition of economic classes, the average market value of products sold from farms operated by female farmers was $145,313 on a per-farm basis. A higher percentage of female farmers than male farmers belonged to the lower economic class, specifically in the category with less than $5,000 in market value of all products sold. In contrast, the distribution pattern for male farmers is the opposite, with a more significant percentage of male farmers than female farmers in the higher economic classes.


United States. (2022). U.S. Census of Agriculture.

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