Growing up on a New Jersey farm, sisters Rebekah Alstede Modery and Sarah Alstede had an early introduction to the agricultural world. With dreams of continuing their family legacy, both sisters pursued higher education to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills necessary to take on leadership roles at Alstede Farms. Despite the traditionally male-dominated nature of farming, these young women are determined to make their mark in the industry.

As the daughters of Kurt Alstede, the sisters have now taken on the role of co-owners of Alstede Farms alongside their father and stepmother. This move has not only solidified their commitment to the family business but has also shifted the ownership to majority women-owned. While women have long played a crucial role in agriculture, the sector has often overlooked their contributions. The 2022 Census of Agriculture sheds light on the significant presence of female decision-makers in farming, with women representing about 36% of all producers.

Women like Rebekah and Sarah are stepping into key roles in managing day-to-day operations and financial aspects of farms. The statistics show that women are more likely to be involved in record-keeping and financial management than men, demonstrating their proficiency in handling the financial challenges that come with running a farm. As they navigate an evolving economic landscape characterized by consolidation and debt, these young women are being called upon to adapt to changing financial pressures.

Apart from financial concerns, the impact of climate change presents another significant challenge for farmers. The unpredictability of weather patterns, such as frost, floods, and droughts, poses a threat to crop yields and farm profitability. In an effort to mitigate these risks, farmers are compelled to make costly investments in equipment and technologies to protect their crops. Alstede Farms’ experience with frost and freezes highlights the financial burden that climate-related challenges can impose on farmers.

Market dynamics also play a crucial role in shaping the financial landscape for farmers. External factors such as rain affecting peak seasons for crops like apples can lead to substantial losses. Finding innovative ways to adapt to market shifts, such as diversifying revenue streams or exploring alternative uses for produce, is essential for the financial sustainability of family-owned farms like Alstede Farms.

The journey of women like Rebekah and Sarah Alstede in the agricultural sector underscores the evolving role of women in farming. Despite the financial and climate challenges that come with managing a farm, these young women are determined to pave the way for future generations of female farmers. By embracing innovation, adopting sustainable practices, and leveraging their skills in financial management, they are setting a precedent for women in agriculture. As the agriculture sector continues to transform, the contributions of women will be vital in shaping its future trajectory.

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