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Farmfest honors 'integral role' of women in ag

The Minnesota Farmfest held its Women in Ag event online. The event featured Sherry Saylor as a keynote speaker, and the 2020 Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year was named.

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20020 Farmfest woman farmer of the year, Sarah Kuschel. (Contributed photo)

Women play an integral role in the agriculture industry, both as workers and as consumers, says Shelly Saylor, keynote speaker at this year's Minnesota Farmfest Women in Ag event.

“The millennial moms are driving a lot of what we do in agriculture. For the first time in a long time, the consumer cares about where their food comes from and wants to make that connection. Remember, we are working for that millennial woman who now represents the typical consumer in America,” Saylor said.

With the annual in-person event in Redwood Falls, Minn., canceled, Minnesota Farmfest organizers put on a series of online events, including the Women in Ag event headlined by Saylor. The event also featured the crowning of the 2020 Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year.

Saylor, the American Farm Bureau Women’s leadership chair, has an extensive background in agriculture. She and her husband reside in Buckeye, Ariz., where they raise alfalfa and a variety of row crops.

Like 80% of farming women, Saylor has a job outside the farm and wears many hats. When Saylor is not busy on the farm, in her role at American Farm Bureau, or doing public speaking, she is a school counselor and has been for over 30 years.

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Saylor stressed the importance of following these four words as a woman in agriculture: composure, conviction, connection and courage. Each one gives the farming woman the tools she needs to be successful in an industry predominantly filled with men.

Sarah Kuschel, of Sebeka, Minn., was named 2020 Farmfest Woman Farmer for her involvement in the ag industry. Kuschel lives on a ranch where they raise alfalfa, corn and hay. Their ranch also includes a beef cattle and equine operation.

Kuschel also wears many hats. Besides putting in well over 40 hours a week on the ranch, she is the regional curriculum specialist for Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, her county Farm Bureau secretary and treasurer, a township fire warden, an active FFA alumni and mother to three children.

On the ranch she is responsible for animal care, breeding decisions, organizing the work crew and office administration.

“What an honor to be a part of the group that is becoming the face and voice of agriculture. I am thrilled that I get to raise my children, the oldest two of which are girls, in this industry and watch them excel,” Kuschel said.

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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