Lindsay Heer manages a dairy along with her husband on equal terms. She hopes more farms can progress to a relationship of equality between the sexes.

Farmer seeks brighter future for women

Lindsay Heer’s essay on women in the dairy industry was BC’s winning entry, sending her to the Advancing Women Conference in Calgary.

Stop asking Lindsay Heer when she will have a son.

The co-owner of the Robin Creek Dairy, east of Round Lake, has no problems passing on her dairy, when the time comes, to her three daughters should she need to.

“It really bothers me when people make comments about, ‘You don’t have anybody to pass on the farm to. Who’s going to take over?’ ” she said. “I think just the thought women or girls can’t do the same things as men, I don’t understand that.”

Heer grew up in an urban setting where both her parents were equals. She became a full-time farmer seven years ago when she met her husband Janik, splitting the work between themselves.

“I think that his passion for animals and my passion for local food, they kind of mix well together,” she said. “We operate in a way that works for us and maybe that does compete with those sort of old ideas.”

She used to milk cows full-time, but these days does more office work because she has to take care of her daughters.

But when Heer entered the industry, she had a cultural shock.

“It did surprise me when I entered this world, sort of the stereotypes that came along with it, and I think that not growing up on a farm, I wasn’t used to those ideas,” she said. “I think that women are just as capable and I did notice that there are less women in decision-making bodies, on boards as directors.

She entered an essay entitled Changing the Culture of Farming to a Dairy Farmers of Canada competition which wanted to hear from women in the dairy industry.

In her essay, Heer noted how the BC Milk Marketing Board, BC Dairy and Dairy Farmers of Canada board of directors has no female representation. “A dramatic misrepresentation of the many women contributing to this industry,” she writes.

“In media, in advertising, it’s so often men that are portrayed as the farmer,” Heer adds.

She points to the 2013 Super Bowl commercial titled So God Made a Farmer, featuring Ram trucks engaged in farm work. Heer noticed that the commercial starred 19 men and only three women.

Heer’s essay was picked as British Columbia’s winning entry, which won her a ticket to the Advancing Women Conference in Calgary March 27-29.

Heer said the conference saw 556 women working in agriculture attend, with two men operating equipment.

“It was a really empowering experience, and I think people felt safe that they could ask questions, they could share their story,” said Heer.

Heer said she has seen change in the Bulkley Valley.

“There’s a lot of really, really encouraging and awesome women that are farming in the Bulkley Valley, and it seems like more and more people are getting involved,” said Heer.

At the end of the day, Heer does not need a son. She needs society to progress so that her daughters can have equal opportunities.

“I don’t want them to be held back because they are girls,” she said. “If they want to become a farmer, I think that’s wonderful, and if they want to do something else, then we will support that as well.”

In Bulkley-Nechako areas A and G, women make up a combined 36 per cent of farmers, according to latest Statistics Canada data taken in 2011.


Read the full story in the April 6 edition of The Interior News.