The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation State Women’s Leadership Committee recently held their first face-to-face event since March 2020. Women from across the state gathered at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis to get their ducks in a row during the 2021 Women’s Leadership Conference.

The purpose of the conference was to help women involved in Mississippi agriculture understand how they can take more of a leadership role on their farms, in their communities and across all aspects of the agriculture industry.

“It has been a long year and a half trying to keep our women involved while not being able to meet in person, so we are excited to be here this week,” said Betty Mills, MFBF State Women’s Leadership Committee Chair. “The committee has done a wonderful job of finding other ways to take care of our programs when COVID-19 put us out of business.”

Attendees heard from experts across a wide range of specialties, including digital media, leading in a crisis, safety and “being the best you,” all with the goal of empowering them to push the positive message of agriculture in Mississippi.

“This was a great way for me to not only connect with other people that are in the same farming community at large, but I also thought it was a good way for me to get informed on how to do outreach for both Mississippi Farm Bureau and for our farm personally,” said Janelle Good, a Noxubee County Farm Bureau member.

The front lines of agriculture are now, more than ever, a place men and women work side-by-side. With women being so involved in the day-to-day farm decisions, they bring a new voice and perspective to the issues impacting agriculture.

“Women have become so involved in education and advocacy, and it’s imperative we continue that,” said Lou Nave, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation Southern Region Women’s Leadership Committee. “By being involved in educational and advocacy events, we have the opportunity to teach legislators, media and the next generation about our farms and the importance of agriculture in their lives.”

Speakers also addressed challenges facing farms and farmers that many times are not discussed, like poor mental health and estate planning.

“Our farmers face a unique set of stressors that are different from your everyday stressors, and so I just want to raise awareness about stress, ways to deal with our stress and healthy coping skills,” said Mary Nelson Robertson, a Mississippi State University Extension Specialist who focuses her research on rural and farmer mental health.

“I think a lot of people have heard some of the content I presented, but may want clarification on how it applies to their individual situation,” said Mississippi Senator Jenifer Branning, who presented on business and estate basics for farmers.

As the largest general agriculture organization in Mississippi, it’s MFBF’s mission to improve the lives of every member of the nearly 190,000 families it represents. One of those ways is by offering meaningful content through conferences, like the Women’s Leadership Conference.

“Our State Women’s Leadership Committee plays a vital role in everything that we do,” MFBF President Mike McCormick said. “They did a great job putting this conference together to educate our Farm Bureau members.”