Unconscious Bias and the Role of Women in Agribusinesses

Women in Agribusinesses

 

By Amy Piersak, market intelligence specialist with CHS

A farmer standing in their field surrounded by the sights and smells of a spring rain. An agronomist analyzing a seeding recommendation. The grain merchandizer settling into a Monday morning at your local cooperative. The animal nutrition specialist you trust to provide the right feed for your animals. Now pause and visualize these people. Who are you picturing?

If you are picturing men in these roles, you are likely experiencing unconscious bias. Humans are only able to consciously process a fraction of the information we receive every second, so out of necessity, our brains have developed the incredible ability to unconsciously process thousands of pieces of information in an instant. While this is invaluable when assessing the threat of a lion in the brush (spoiler: very high), it can cause us to fall prey to biases when envisioning tasks or roles such as those mentioned earlier.

Despite these perceptions, the role of women in agriculture has been steadily evolving. Much of the shift has come from the changing demographic landscape in education. Most colleges of agriculture are posting higher numbers of women seeking ag-related degrees. In the spring of this year, The College of Agriculture at Purdue University posted that 58% of their undergraduate students were women. This is a colossal change from the 1970s when women comprised only 2-5% of their undergraduate population. For comparison, women represented 43% of the total undergraduate students at Purdue University in spring of 2017. In 2017, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State reported 52% of their undergraduates are women. Like Purdue University, Iowa State University reported that of their undergraduate students, 43% were women.

As women are obtaining more degrees in areas related to animals, animal behaviors, entomology, botany, plant sciences, and environmental sciences compared to men, the implications on the “typical candidate” will be significant. It is worth noting that these degrees are considered STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees. Women have historically been underrepresented in STEM degrees, and agriculture is a leading area of growth on that front.

Unfortunately, the gains in education are not as well represented in the working world. The United States Department of Labor reports that women represented 47% of the workforce in 2016. Which remains relatively unchanged from the last 20 years. When we look at agribusinesses and local agricultural cooperatives, the percentage of women in the workforces drop to 32% and 22% respectively.

So where does that leave us? We have a growing number of qualified candidates, and yet a top 5 challenge identified by agribusiness leadership is the availability of qualified talent. How do we bridge this gap? A great place to start is for both sides to begin watching out for their biases, and working proactively to compensate for them. This simple change will help expand a talent pool that is perceived to be constrained, and increase career opportunities for members of your local community.

This article was originally published on AgCareers.com.

CHS reports fiscal year-end results, announces FY 2018 priorities

CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $127.9 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2017, compared to net income of $424.2 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2016. Consolidated revenues totaled $31.9 billion for fiscal 2017, approximately a five percent increase over consolidated revenues of $30.3 billion for fiscal 2016. (more…)

The Fall Versus Spring Nitrogen Debate

nitrogen management

 
Nitrogen management is critical for growing healthy corn and farmers are sensitive to their role in helping build a more sustainable world. They are faced with the often-daunting question of whether fertilizer applications can be both profitable and sustainable. Often, the delicate balancing act begins with the decision of whether to apply N in fall or hold off until spring.

BMPs and the 4Rs

Corn producers understand there is no blanket practice. There is, however, a disciplined application approach that has long proven effective.

“When we talk about sustainability in agriculture, specifically as it relates to nutrient management, it really goes back to a foundation of best management practices (BMPs) in conjunction with the Fertilizer Institute’s 4R Program,” says Eric Scherder, field scientist, Ph.D., Dow AgroSciences, from Huxley, Iowa. “We can address some of the challenges we’re facing with nitrogen leaching and surface application runoff more effectively using this approach.”

As most growers are aware, the 4R program is a concept to help them select the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement. While source, rate and placement are important, often the most scrutinized decision — both from an economic and sustainability standpoint — is timing. (more…)

Spring wheat now eligible for CHS Pro Advantage grain marketing contracts

CHS Pro Advantage open enrollment

CHS has announced open enrollment for spring wheat contracts through CHS Pro Advantage now through December 13, 2017. Corn and soybeans contracts are also included in this enrollment period.

CHS Pro Advantage gives growers access to industry experts at CHS Hedging/Russell Consulting Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CHS, to price and sell their grain. This helps to manage risk while delivering superior profits even during a tough market.

“With wheat futures falling from three-year highs seen just a few months ago and volatility following USDA’s August report, now is the time to commit bushels for professional management and marketing by our hedging experts,” said Kent Beadle, director, Russell Consulting Group.

Growers can enroll 2018 and 2019 bushels. Bushels in the one-year program will be priced between Dec. 18, 2017 and Aug. 24, 2018. Bushels in the two-year program will be priced between Dec. 18, 2017, and Aug. 23, 2019.

If you’re interested in knowing more, contact your local CHS grain team for more information or visit the CHS Pro Advantage website.

Support the industry on Global Fertilizer Day

October 13 is Global Fertilizer Day

Friday, October 13, is Global Fertilizer Day, established by the fertilizer industry as a way to help highlight the essential role fertilizers play in global food production. “About half of the world’s food production is attributable to the use of fertilizer, yet our industry commonly faces incorrect public perceptions about its importance,” says Michael Johnson, CHS Agronomy director of marketing.

(more…)

October Is Co-op Month

October is National Cooperative MonthCHS is proud to announce that October is National Cooperative Month. After all, what better time could there be than during harvest to reflect on everything cooperatives do for the farmers and ranchers who own them? As you’re busy bringing in your harvest, consider how rural co-ops, empowered by the combined strength of its owners, ensure the steady supply of affordable inputs that make your crop possible.

(more…)

CHS announces equity management decisions


At its September meeting, the CHS Board of Directors made a number of decisions regarding equity management. The following letter from CHS Board Chairman Dan Schurr outlines these decisions:

Dear Cooperative Owner,

CHS was built on the shared values of managing our business with the highest integrity, building lasting and mutually rewarding relationships, and partnering for our collective success.

These values guide every decision your CHS Board of Directors makes on your behalf. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of those owners and employees that came before us, CHS is a cooperative that’s been built for the long haul. Your Board of Directors will ensure that tradition continues. It’s with this spirit that we share recent Board decisions around equity management.

Despite solid performance in our core businesses, a few large events have resulted in substantial fiscal 2017 financial losses in certain patronage-based businesses. These events included a loss attributed to a large producer loan and business unit asset impairments in the United States.

(more…)

Phosphate industry expects minor impact from Irma


There was a small uptick in phosphate sales ahead of Hurricane Irma’s arrival in Florida, where the bulk of North American phosphate production is located. Phosphate facilities there shut down as part of their hurricane preparedness plans.

Early reports from manufacturers are that damage at the facilities appears to be limited, but full assessment will take time. Some finished product has sustained water damage but no exact estimates have been released yet.

A major manufacturer expects to be able to resume production fairly soon, but says its third quarter production volumes could be impacted by the storm disruptions. It had stopped making price offers to either domestic or international customers until late Thursday, Sept. 14. The market has reacted and prices moved up significantly late last week.

Several import vessels of phosphates are arriving in the Gulf this month, including one vessel with CHS cargo, which arrived and was unloaded in between hurricanes. Most of that product is now making its way up the river system.

Staff at CHS terminals are busy filling orders and working with accounts to get product in position before the busy harvest season gets underway across the Cornbelt. CHS is working hard to make sure producers are being kept informed of any supply changes or concerns that might arise from the recent storm damage to production facilities or transportation infrastructure.

Local students receive CHS Foundation scholarships to pursue careers in agriculture

CHS Interns for 2017

 

The CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., is committed to developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture. As part of the foundation’s work centered on advancing agriculture education, it has awarded scholarships to six Colorado high school graduates. The Colorado students are among 100 students representing 23 states and Canada. Each will receive a $1,000 scholarship to cover expenses associated with their freshman year of college.

“The success of our hometown communities and rural America depends on students with a strong interest in agriculture to pursue ag-focused degrees and be the innovators to feed the world into the future,” says Nanci Lilja, president, CHS Foundation. “We’re pleased to recognize these students with scholarships and join their communities in looking forward to the important contributions they’ll make to the ag industry.”

These Minnesota high school students are among the 2017 CHS scholarship winners:

  • Erica Earley, Wykoff, Minn.; Northeast Iowa Community College; Agriculture Business and Beef Science
  • Jacey Edlin, Jackson, Minn.; South Dakota State University; Agricultural Education
  • Mikayla Erf, Oakdale, Minn.; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Animal Science
  • Dillon Gratz, Atwater, Minn.; South Dakota State University; Dairy Science
  • Kylee Kohls, Litchfield, Minn.; South Dakota State University; Agriculture Education, Communications & Leadership
  • Adam Kroll, Royalton, Minn.; North Dakota State University; Ag Economics
  • Holly Larson; Medford, Minn.; South Dakota State University; Agricultural Education
  • Madeline Patterson, Kenyon, Minn.; North Dakota State University; Agricultural Communication
  • Kourtney Pederson, Farmington, Minn.; Iowa State University; Agribusiness
  • Joshua Schlumpberger, Bowlus, Minn.; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Computer Science
  • John Toelle, Brown’s Valley, Minn.; North Dakota State College of Science; Farm Management
  • Jared Troendle, Lanesboro, Minn.; South Dakota State University; Agricultural Business
  • Madeline Weninger, Buffalo, Minn.; South Dakota State University; Agricultural Education
  • Sierra Williamson, Sherburn, Minn.; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Agricultural and Food Business Management

An independent, external committee selected recipients based on their career goals, essays, extracurricular involvement, transcripts and reference letters.  In addition to high school scholarships, the CHS Foundation funds an additional 200 scholarships for students enrolled in an agricultural-related program at colleges across the country. These scholarships range from $1,000 to $2,000 and are directly administered by more than 30 CHS partner schools. Click here for more information. 

About the CHS Foundation
The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company. As a part of the CHS stewardship focus, the CHS Foundation supports organizations that develop future leaders for agriculture through education and leadership programs, improve agricultural safety and enhance community vitality in rural America. Learn more at chsinc.com/stewardship.

© 2017 CHS Inc.