Erin Brenneman, who farms with her husband, Tim, near Southeast Iowa, says she enjoys blowing away stereotypes about women in agriculture. “It’s fun,” she insists. “I take can take care of pigs, load market hogs and even run the combine when my husband is busy. I think it’s our God-given right to be proud of our contributions to pig farming.”
However, Erin isn’t alone in her quest to prove that women play a dominant role in pig farming. In recent months, she and three other women, who have become close friends through their common bond in the pork industry, have been sharing their stories through word-of-mouth and social media.
Emily Erickson, who grew up on a pig and crop farm in Southwest Minnesota, where she serves as the Animal Well-Being and Quality Assurance manager for New Fashion Pork. Cristen Clark, is a sixth generation farm girl who farms with her family in Central Iowa.
The last member of the independent-women quartet is Lexi Marek, who grew up on a pig farm in Southeast Iowa, and is currently a junior at Iowa State University majoring in public service and administration in agriculture.
“During the summer, the pig barn is essentially run by my sisters and me.” says Lexi. “We clean the pens, take care of the pigs and get them ready for show. In my family, we get things done and gender does not stop you.”
“There is no typical day in pig farming,” Cristen adds. “I have pigs and I have kids and they both have pretty common needs, which is hilarious.”
“I don’t think our jobs have changed over the last 50 years,” Emily concludes, in reference to women’s role in pig farming. “We’re just being more vocal about it.”