When one thinks of life on the farm, it usually involves a man and his love of the outdoors, animals and plenty of hard work.
In the case of the Leduc farm near Moose Creek that’s all true, except for one thing. The person helping to run things is actually a woman.
Breaking down barriers is usually reserved for social topics a little more politically sensitive than the family farm, but Erin Leduc is changing all that.
The Moose Creek woman is building a life for herself as an integral part of the farming operation that includes cash-cropping some 4,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.
Leduc has taken part in “Grains in Action” – a provincial project run by the Grain Farmers of Ontario that takes select farmers under the age of 35 and introduces them to best practices for on-farm business management, best practices for engaging emerging markets and to the many end uses of Ontario grain.
She has parlayed her experience into a farm life that is centred on the business side of agriculture, brokering deals for the products her family's operation produces.
“It’s only been about three years that I’ve been on the farm working,” she said. “But every year there seems to be more women.”
Of Canada’s 346,200 farm operators, just 26 per cent are female, according to Statistics Canada numbers.
While the proportion of all farms operated exclusively by men is large – 64 per cent - it has shrunk since 1991, when more than one operator could be reported to the Census of Agriculture for the first time. For women, the trend has been the reverse: the proportion of farms operated exclusively by women is growing. Although the proportion is still small (just five per cent) it is larger than it was nearly 20 years ago (3.9 per cent). In British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador the proportion of farms run exclusively by females is twice the national share. British Columbia is also the only province where combined male-and-female and exclusively female farms are more common than exclusively male farms.
Leduc works alongside her other family members, including her father Alain, in running the day-to-day operations of their cash-cropping farm.
“I’m very lucky to have been put into an era where I can learn a lot,” said Leduc, pointing specifically to this season and past season where things land prices have skyrocketed and market volatility is becoming a constant.
And she said the reaction she has received from what has been traditionally perceived as a male-dominated industry has been encouraging.
“I feel like I am very well received,” she said. “I get a lot of help and guidance from people.”