Earned RespectEarned Respect

May 1, 2011

Growing up on a dairy, Adelia Pimm of Conewango Valley, N.Y., says dairying was always on a short list of things she wanted to do.

“I still remember the day, like it was yesterday, when I first told my dad I wanted to have my own dairy some day,” she says. “His response was, ‘Dairy farming is hard work, especially for a girl.’ From that moment on, I was determined to show him I could do it. He never questioned me again.”

She was only 21 years old and had just graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in animal science when she applied for a Farm Services Agency loan to purchase her first herd.

After receiving her loan, Pimm rented land in Walden, N.Y., where she milked 160 cows for four years. In April 2000, her parents formed Pimm View Holding, LLC in Conewango Valley and invited Pimm to move her dairy there.

Today, Pimm milks 275 mixed cows in her double-10 parlor on the farm’s 450 acres with the help of three full-time and four part-time employees. Pimms View Farm also operates as a separate operation from Pimm’s parents’ LLC.

“It’s nice to be so close to my family since they provide plenty of help and support,” she says. “My parents help out at times on the dairy, but I’m the sole operator putting in 10 to 12 hours each day. It’s my farm.”

In addition to running the dairy, Pimm also serves as director of the Brown Swiss Association in New York and on the County Farm Bureau board.

“It’s nice to see that statistics are showing that more and more women are entering this industry,” she says. “Women are good at it, and I hope the number of female farm operators continues to climb.”

Joyce Bupp, the only female to sit on DFA’s Board of Directors, agrees.

“I’m glad to see more women getting involved,” Bupp says. “I believe women have always played a huge role in dairying over the years, but have not always got the recognition they deserve. Traditionally, women stayed home on the farm to raise the family, but they still made significant contributions that went unnoticed. Now, women are getting more involved in everything. I think we are going to continue to see more women emerge in agriculture and that’s exciting, because this is a great field.”

Today, Bupp operates Bupplynn Farm with her husband Leroy in Seven Valleys, Pa. The couple milks 180 cows twice a day with the help of three full-time and three part-time employees.

In addition to serving on DFA’s Board of Directors, she also is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association board, Pennsylvania Holstein Association and Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program.

“When I decided to get involved in the industry at the capacity I am, no one treated me differently,” she says. “I have always been treated like one of the guys. I didn’t grow up on a dairy, and I think it’s important to encourage young girls and women to pursue a career in the dairy industry if they’re interested. There’s definitely a place for them if they are willing to work hard.”

Phyllis Rowcliffe of Medina, N.Y., is a prime example of a hard worker. Although she never worked on a dairy, she spent more than 45 years hauling milk in the Northeast Area for her husband’s milk hauling company, David G. Rowcliffe Bulk Milk Service.

She says at first being a minority driver on the road was difficult, but over time it changed.

“At first, I’d have drivers at the milk plant asking if I needed help backing the truck in, and a few times, I even had troopers pull me over to make sure I had the proper license,” she says. “But once they realized I could do it, they didn’t bother me. They respected me.”

Williams, Hanscome, Pimm, Bupp and Rowcliffe are shining examples of women who have not only thrived in the industry, but who also have excelled in a predominately male-dominated field. Their success is positively impacting the dairy industry, and their vision and passion is transforming the portrayal of women in U.S. agriculture.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to say that nothing has been handed to me,” Williams says. “I’ve worked my butt off for everything I’ve got. Sure, I’ve had to stop and ask for help along the way, but the success and respect I’ve earned is mine, and no one can take that away from me.”