Women’s presence in the agriculture sector has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. In fact, according to the 2022 Census of Agriculture, 41% of new and beginning producers are women, and women in general account for 36% of the country’s 3.4 million producers. But these are more than just stats. It’s a trend that Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) members have experienced first-hand.

Despite being the only woman working in the fertilizer division at the CHS plant in Erskine, Minnesota, MFBF member Katie Lee contends that she’s seen the number of women in the ag industry is growing—not just in production but also in the realms of transportation, agronomy and more. “It’s not a male-dominated job like it used to be,” she says. “It’s evolving.”

MFBF member Angela Guentzel, who lives near Mankato, adds, “I’ve seen so many more women in visible roles that are less traditionally female-dominated. It’s been fun to see a lot more women actively engaged and involved in more forward roles.”

In honor of Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day on March 8 and MFBF's long history of female involvement and leadership, we’re highlighting six female members—all of whom are not only farmers with rich family heritage on the land but also contribute to the larger agriculture industry.

group of students posed with Juanita Reed-BonifacePassionate Educator

Juanita Reed-Boniface, MFBF member in Anoka County, was born and raised on a cattle farm in Nebraska where her father’s family had raised Shorthorn cattle for several generations. This foundation led to a lifelong love of agriculture—and blossomed into a passion for educating others on the topic. Reed-Boniface spent 30 years working for the University of Minnesota Extension, as an Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development. In this role, she is best known for founding the State 4-H Ambassador program, now in its 55th year. 

But when she retired in 1992, she was far from done contributing to the agriculture community. In fact, she was really just getting started. “My philosophy is, when you retire, you have to retire to something, otherwise you wither on the vine. And that’s not my personality at all,” she says. “After 30 years of having 4-H as my passion, what was going to be my new passion?”

She got her first hint of direction the same year she retired; her father died, leaving Reed-Boniface with 20 cows and 20 acres—at which point she joined her brothers in the family beef cow–calf business. She continues as a partner today. “That put me right back to my roots and into the real world of agriculture again,” she says. This opportunity opened the door to various volunteer and community leadership roles.

Today, the 85-year-old has spent just as many years volunteering her time as she spent in her career—from leadership roles with Minnesota CattleWomen to extensive Ag in the Classroom volunteer work and serving on the board of the Anoka County Farm Bureau, where she is now the director emeritus.

So, what has propelled this lifelong involvement in agriculture and education? “My mother was a teacher and my father was a cowman. With education and livestock production in my genes it is no surprise that my niche in the family business has been in educating and advocating for the industry,” Reed-Boniface says. “A big part of it is because it’s my heritage, and that just really, really runs deep.”

This heritage is why education remains one of her true passions. “Kids are getting to be four and five generations [removed] from the farm. An understanding of where their food comes from and how it’s produced is really an important piece of anybody’s education,” she says. “Everybody is dependent upon agriculture. And because we’re a democracy where citizens vote, everybody has an opportunity for input into policy. It’s important to me that we do as much as we can to help everyone understand the importance of agriculture.”

Cassy Postler with a goatAnimal Advocate

Cassy Postler is a fourth-generation farmer in Pipestone County who runs the family farm with her husband, Tom, her father and grandfather; she’s the first female in her family to farm at this capacity. Together, they farm 80 rented acres, and Postler and her father also have about 80 head of sheep that they lamb out every spring. She and her husband also farm 70 acres of their own. And that’s not even her day job.

As a career, Postler is a small and large animal veterinarian who’s also certified in chiropractic for dogs and horses. Her days are filled with house calls to area farms, mobile chiropractic appointments and seeing pets in the office. 

So, how does she fit all this into 24 hours? “You find a passion and it just seems that time opens the way to the passion,” she says, adding that she loves how both farming and veterinary medicine are so different day-to-day, and she never knows what each day will hold. “That unknown—I love it. I don't find it scary; I find it awesome.”

While she loves spending her days with animals of all kinds, what she enjoys even more is the educational, confidence-building component of her work. “My job as a vet is to teach everybody to do what they do better—to raise their animals, to heal their animals, to care for their animals,” she says. “If I’m not teaching you something every time I'm meeting you, then I’m not doing my job.” 

Postler has also been involved in the Pipestone County and Minnesota Farm bureaus for as long as she can remember. Her dad was the long-time president, and she took over the vacancy he left in 2022. Through working with the Farm Bureau, she’s developed a passion for policy-making and advocating for farmer needs. “Farm Bureau and veterinary medicine are so intertwined with each [other]. We all have the same goals,” she says. “I advocate for the Farm Bureau anytime I advocate for myself or my profession.”

Hannah Molitor holding milk testersRising Star

Last January, Stearns County Farm Bureau president Hannah Molitor had the rare opportunity to attend the State of the Union address as a guest of Representative Tom Emmer. Since 2023 was a farm bill year, Rep. Emmer wanted to bring a young farmer as one of his guests, and Molitor was the lucky recipient of his invitation. Reflecting on her time in D.C., she says, “It was so incredible. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Both at a reception hosted by the Speaker of the House and at the State of the Union itself, Molitor says she met so many people she never would have otherwise, including a variety of representatives who sit on the Ag Committee. 

Molitor works at the Stearns County Farm Service Agency (FSA), helping farmers access federal programs—work that directly relies on The Farm Bill and what it provides. This has made her D.C. experience even sweeter in retrospect. 

Additionally, Molitor works part-time as a milk tester for the Minnesota DHIA, serving about 22 herds monthly, with herd sizes ranging from 18 to 5,000. For the past 10 years, she’s also worked as a herdsman on her own family’s dairy farm, which is run by her dad and uncle.

Molitor finds that all of these roles really complement one another. “Between my two jobs, DHA and FSA, it's kind of outreach with both. I'm continually talking about each of them in both roles,” she says. “They really work well hand in hand.” But in all of it, she says, “My favorite part about that job is just the connections made.”

Rosemary Gustafson standing with cattle in backgroundAn Inspired Legacy

Rosemary Gustafson is not merely a female farmer—she’s third in a line of three women who have farmed the land where she lives, north of Bemidji. Her grandparents homesteaded the farm in 1926, establishing a dairy farm and fighting to transform the rolling, rocky hills they owned into a working farm, growing potatoes and other crops to sell. “My grandparents were very hard workers. They built this farm from nothing,” Gustafson says, noting that they had to dynamite stumps off their land, as it had previously been logged.

Gustafson’s mother, the third of four children and the oldest daughter, bought the land from her parents in 1965. Gustafson’s father worked construction, and it was her mother who ran their dairy farm while raising six children. 

Gustafson, herself, returned to the family farm in 1992, purchasing the land from her mother. In order to do this, she negotiated working remotely with her day job as a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard in Detroit, long before this was considered a viable option. Ten years into this venture, she married her husband, Eric, whom she had known since kindergarten, and they raised three children together on the farm. Though they initially ran a cow–calf operation, the couple has shifted their focus to backgrounding cattle. 

When speaking about the heritage of her family farm and the woman who came before her, Gustafson gets emotional. “Farming 

is not an easy way of life … [But] there’s no other way of life that allows you to really connect with the land and your history like farming does.”

The legacy of the land, and the industry itself, is what drives Rosemary’s involvement in the MFBF, and in her roles as president of the Minnesota CattleWomen and chair of the Minnesota state beef ambassador program. She’s passionate about better educating the general population on agriculture and advocating for research and infrastructure funding.

Katie Lee standing outsideTaking Care of Business

Katie Lee is an AR specialist at CHS in Erskine, where she handles customer invoicing, inventory management and taking payments, among other things. She moved to this small, northern Minnesota town to be with her now-husband, Brady, after college, but she continued commuting to Grand Forks for work. But after having their first child, she wanted to find a job closer to home. Around that time, CHS was building its fertilizer plant in Erskine, and Lee landed a job there. 

The couple and their two sons live on the farmland where Brady is a fifth-generation farmer, working the land with his parents. Outside of her day job, Lee, of course, helps around the farm, enjoying the variety each day brings. “It’s never the same. You never know what spring is going to bring or when it’s going to come,” she says.

But small town farm life and the daily chores that come with it wasn’t new to Lee when she married her husband. She grew up on a family farm near Rothsay, where she, too, was a fifth-generation farm kid. As a freshman, she got her first taste of involvement in Farm Bureau when her dad “forced” her to attend the MFBF’s annual Freedom Seminar. “I went, I loved it, and I returned every year after that until they canceled it. And I ended up being a counselor every year,” Lee says. 

Lee got more involved at the Polk County chapter after getting married; Brady is currently the president of their county’s board, and she is the county representative for the Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. Together, they also served three years as state representatives for that same committee, and they also volunteer for Ag in the Classroom events.

Angela Guentzel standing by corn haulerReturning to Her Roots

Angela Guentzel had a career in human services before moving back to her family’s farm near Mankato in 2014. She was already taking time off of her job during planting and harvesting seasons to help on the farm—so when her brother, Jon, who took over the farm from their father, asked if she’d consider coming back and working with him, she decided to make the move. Together, they’re the sixth generation in their family to work this land, where they grow corn and soybeans. 

While Jon is the farm lead, Guentzel works full-time on the farm during planting and harvesting seasons. In the off-season, she focuses on accounting, payroll, HR (the farm has a few full-time employees, as well as seasonal contractors), PR and event management. 

Guentzel and her husband, Andy Cramblit, also run two agricultural businesses together. With their seed company, Mankato Valley Seed, they sell corn and soybean seeds to local farmers; the business picks up right after harvest. “We’re proud of the products we have, and use them on our own farm,” Guentzel says, adding that this business has been “a nice way to get to know other farmers in our area.”

Their second business, Mankato Valley Soil Solutions, focuses on improving soil and enhancing yield. The couple sells microbial products and formulates their own microbial stimulant, which is designed to feed the microbial life within soil—boosting soil health, plant health and crop yield. 

Guentzel enjoys the opportunities for innovation in farming. “Agriculture is a mix of nature doing the best that it can and technology and education … doing the best that it can—and combining the three elements to make the best product in the best way,” she says.

This opportunity for innovation and change is also why she’s stayed so involved in the Farm Bureau—where she’s served as the promotion and education chair at the state and county levels, among other roles—and other ag organizations like FFA and Minnesota Corn Growers Association. She wants to make sure the industry is represented well to those in government, those involved in or considering jobs in agriculture and even those who simply want to know more about where their food comes from.

MFBF Women By the Numbers

The original 1919 MFBF bylaws stipulated that a woman should have a seat on the state board of directors.
In 1922, Mrs. E.V. Ripley of Hubbard County was the first woman to serve on the state board.
In 1933, MFBF set a goal for “every farm woman to be an informed voter.”
Nearly 20% of 2024 MFBF county presidents are female.