Last week, as we celebrated Women in History Month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted a special conversation to honor the women who work in the crop insurance industry.
Kendall Jones, chair of the National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and president and CEO of ProAg, and crop insurance agents and industry leaders Iris Sáenz and Pat Swanson participated in the discussion moderated by Richard Flournoy, Acting Administrator of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency.
Each of the women spoke about their careers in agriculture and the important contributions made by women in the crop insurance industry over the years.
“This industry is led by so many female agents in the field, so many female adjusters, people who do so much hard work,” Jones said. “I’m impressed with so many of the agents that I know today – not only are they running their agencies, they’re helping run farms or running the farms themselves, they have other businesses, they support the industry, their communities… They’re an inspiration to us all.”
Sáenz spoke about how women have always been key to food and farming.
“From the field to the table, women have always played an important role in agriculture. Since Indigenous tribes freely roamed these lands, women have been the primary providers of nourishment for their families and communities. Perhaps that is why many of us here today are inclined to dedicate ourselves to our agricultural communities… that is why it is so important that we, as women, come together to lift each other up.”
It’s important to honor the incredible work of the women in the crop insurance industry – and continue to share the stories of these women to inspire future generations of farmers, ranchers and agents.
Jones advised women who are just beginning their careers to be curious and take risks. Mistakes are inevitable, but with mistakes will also come successes that will build your confidence.
Swanson echoed this advice to be continually curious.
“My biggest advice to everyone… never stop learning. I feel it is so important to continue learning about your industry, about your farmers, about your customers you serve,” she said. “Never be afraid to ask questions.”
While each woman’s story and experience in agriculture has been unique, each found a fulfilling career working in the crop insurance industry and helping America’s farmers and ranchers manage their risks.
“From the cherry orchards in Michigan to the boardroom of the USDA building in Washington, DC, crop insurance has given me endless opportunities along the way,” Sáenz said.
We applaud the women of crop insurance for sharing their inspiring stories and grateful that they are helping continue the legacy of strong women in agriculture.