May/June 2015
Recognizing Spudwomen By Bill Schaefer

The history of agriculture is one told mostly from a man’s perspective. However, there is no denying that women have played both important and supporting roles in agriculture and on U.S. farms from their very beginnings.

Whether they’re growing potatoes, developing new cultivars or performing research on weed and pest control or best management practices, more women are taking on influential positions within U.S. agriculture in general and in the U.S. potato industry specifically.

In the May/June issue of Spudman we recognize a few of the many women who are making significant contributions to our potato industry.

We begin with David Fairbourn’s grower profile of Diane Hanson and the Hanson Seed Farm in Cornell, Michigan. Hanson’s roots in agriculture and the potato industry run deep. Growing up on the family farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as a teenager she won the 4-H potato competition, defeating her male peers.

Today, she sits on the Michigan Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development and is an active participant on the U.S. Potato Board. The continuity of the Hanson farmstead, from Diane and her husband, Dennis, to their sons Scott and Ted and their children, promises to be a strength in the potato industry in the years ahead.

Traci Hiebert is featured in this issue’s Spudman 7. Hiebert has been the international marketing director for the Idaho Potato Commission since 2013.

This month’s Potato Association of America (PAA) feature on common scab was written by Eugenia Banks, a potato specialist working for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs. In 2013 Banks was recognized as the Potato Woman of 2013,” by The PAA.

There are many women like Banks who are making important discoveries in research areas of the potato industry. Amanda Gevens, Silvia Rondon, Nora Olsen, Nina Zidack and Susie Thompson, to name a few, are just five of the many women I’ve interviewed and worked with in five and a half years of editing Spudman.

Here at Spudman and Great American Media Services we salute all the women involved in the many disciplines of the potato industry and the world of agriculture.

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