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Empowering Women in Agriculture in Mexico

by | Sep 30, 2016 | Farm | 0 comments

Empowering Women in Agriculture in Mexico

Pictured left to right: Jeff Phillips, Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture; Emily Jevre, Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture; Andrea Vaubel, Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture; Lauren Biegler, soybean grower; deb Vander Kooi, dairy farmer; Cindy Sorensen, Midwest Dairy; Alauna Yust, Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture.

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is a success.

Henry Ford

I recently participated in a trip with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to join a group of women from Minnesota-based agriculture and agri-businesses, to speak to groups of women farmers in Mexico. Here’s a brief video recap of the trip created by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture:

This trip was the result of a Memo of Understanding (MOU) that was signed by Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner, Dave Frederickson and Enrique Martinez y Martinez, Mexico’s Agriculture Minister, during a trade mission with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in August 2015. One of the agreed upon objectives of the MOU is to promote the exchange of information and best practices to foster gender equity and to empower women to seek instruction and certification of labor skills on productive functions related to agricultural production and fishery chains, and its development. I am so honored to have been asked to participate in this trip. Thank you to the Department of Agriculture, Midwest dairy farmers and to our Midwest Dairy leadership who supported my participation in this life-changing event.

The participants from Minnesota were all women; representing dairy, soy, corn and organic farming. I was asked to join the trip to represent the dairy sector and to share our consumer marketing messages. Midwest Dairy also asked deb Vander Kooi, a dairy farmer from Worthington, Minn., to join me on the trip.

The goals of this trip were to: help foster international collaboration; help grow markets across both countries; and to discuss and share best practices, in order to help blur the borders between the countries and to help the women farmers in Mexico. Supporting each other will help to grow the entire dairy category everywhere. We can accomplish more by working together than against each other. Consumer confidence in the dairy supply chain recognizes no borders, so it is imperative to assist others where we can, to help maintain and grow this confidence. Our group consisted of me and deb, a soybean grower, and four representatives from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. We made five presentations at three universities in Puebla, Guadalajara and Tuxtla Guttierez. The focus of our presentations was to share our stories of farming and best practices to inspire consumer confidence in the dairy supply chain. Follow along with our adventure through tweets provided by Minnesota Department of Agriculture:

The presentations were well attended and received. We learned that the passion for farming and providing care for one’s animals, is universal. We are more alike, than different. We were so impressed by the women we met and for the passion they have, despite the economic challenges, and lack of infrastructure to support them.

For more reflections on my trip, visit my trip blog here.

deb and I were interviewed by the Minnesota Farm Network while we were in Mexico. You can hear the interview here.

Also, if you are interested in additional photos from the trip, they can be viewed here.

This trip definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but I will be forever grateful for this experience. Have you ever experienced the unexpected by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone?

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Hi, I’m Cindy Sorensen, the “retail guru” and former Sr. Vice President of Business Development for Midwest Dairy Association. Why do they call me the retail guru? After many years of sales experience with Nestle, Minute Maid and Cadbury, I have learned a thing or two about grocery stores. In addition to my retail responsibilities with Midwest Dairy, I also consult with many dairy industry partners and provide them with strategic information which will help them grow their dairy product volume, which in turn sells more milk for the dairy farmers of the Midwest. I enjoyed selling chocolate and orange juice, but I sure am glad I entered the dairy business. I am honored to represent the hard working dairy farmers of the Midwest and consult with retailers on their behalf.
 
Like you, I am constantly on the go. Whether it is racing to another meeting, getting my two sons from one activity to the next, or training for my next half marathon, my body starts to wear out. This is where dairy comes in. I attribute my boundless energy to healthy eating habits (including nutrient-rich dairy products) and exercise.
 
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In my spare time I enjoy traveling to new places, running, attending my sons’ baseball and basketball games and playing in my church’s handbell choir.

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