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DFO celebrates International Women's Day

March 8, 2020

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), which is celebrated on March 8 every year. The day celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. It also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality in the world, and is recognized by many organizations and countries.

This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. To learn more about IWD, visit the website here.

To mark IWD in Ontario, the provincial government has provided an op-ed article about a shortage of women in skilled trades. In Ontario’s dairy industry, women are increasingly moving into various roles on and off the farm. Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) has also highlighted notable women working in agriculture in its magazine, Milk Producer.


“Celebrating Canada’s hard-working women in agriculture,” cover story from March 2019

Click here to read the full article


Miranda Verhoef, first female board member at Alberta Milk and Alberta dairy producer: Verhoef suggests women in the Canadian dairy industry help educate the public, be involved in industry associations and find their place on their farms.

“Of course, we never have enough time, but it can be bookkeeping, recordkeeping, feeding calves or milking the cows. It gives you in-depth knowledge about the farm, it is teamwork, and this will show in your kids.”


Bonnie den Haan, DFO board member, Ontario dairy producer and on-farm processor of Sheldon Creek Dairy

“I grew up being told, ‘You should have been a boy.’ Thankfully, this is a phrase seldom heard anymore. When I started my agriculture career 38 years ago, we had many real and perceived barriers we had to overcome. When I joined the farm as a full partner, industry people continually asked me if my husband was home so they could ask him how the cows were milking. Meanwhile, I would be standing in the milking barn. Looking back, I can laugh at these comments but at the time, it was infuriating, intimidating or hilariously comical, depending on how the day was going.”


Aretha Westenenk, British Columbia dairy producer

“In Fraser Valley, there are several women in key agricultural roles. Gender doesn’t play a factor in the search for those who are willing to work. I strongly recommend post-secondary education because opportunities are endless in agriculture.  Find the field you really enjoy, and surround yourself with people who keep you motivated to do your best.”


Heather Luten, Nova Scotia dairy producer

“As dairy producers, we work with a number of women who are professional advisers to our operation. I know a lot of women who play a very active role managing and working on dairy farms. Women are continuing to be encouraged to take over their own family farms.”  


To read about seven other successful women in agriculture, click here to read the June 2018 cover story.

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