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Workshops assist female farmers in north country

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CANTON — Earlier this year, 14 women in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties participated in a series of six workshops designed to teach experienced farm and ranch women about agriculture risk management and other topics.

The series was part of a national program called Annie’s Project, created in 2003 to strengthen women’s roles in farming.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County hosted the workshops, which wrapped up March 6. The topics included business planning, financial strategy development, production risks, insurance, estate planning and transition farming.

“The women who attended were knowledgeable, motivated and open-minded,” said Anita R. Figueras, the Cooperative Extension’s finance manager and farm business educator. “They already know how to farm. They wanted to learn how they could become more profitable and successful.”

She said a discussion group for female farmers in the area might be started to continue the flow of ideas and information.

Jennifer B. Rastley, a dairy farmer from Gouverneur, attended the workshop with her daughter, Brooke E., 18, who is serving as St. Lawrence County’s Dairy Princess.

Learning more about banking terms and financing was helpful, and interacting with other women about farming techniques they use was informative, Mrs. Rastley said. “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been farming — you can always learn something new or tweak what you’re already doing,” she said.

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