Women who work in farming businesses are often the sole decision makers, and a new three-day program has been created to help them make the best choices.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce are sponsoring a business management seminar for farmwomen called Mississippi Women in Agriculture — Annie’s Project.

The program will be held in Starkville at the MSU Palmeiro Center Oct. 23-25, with focus on livestock, row crop and timber businesses. The featured speakers include John Anderson and Jane Parish, who will speak about the beef industry; Ken Booker, who will discuss the forestry business; and Bob Hughes, who will focus on estate planning.

In Hattiesburg, the program will be offered at the Forrest County Extension Center Nov. 7-9. Guest speakers include Norman Winter and Kerry Johnson, who will discuss the green industry; John Anderson will discuss the beef industry; Debbie Gaddis will address the market outlook for forestry investments; and Mike Pepper will speak on behalf of the Mississippi Poultry Association.

Program coordinator Sonia Hancock said farmwomen play a major role in managing finances and making decisions, as either the sole proprietors or as strong partners with their husbands.

“There are about 52,000 farms in Mississippi. Of the 57 percent of farm operators in the state who list farming as their major occupation, more than 5,200 are women,” Hancock said. “Many women have had to learn by trial and error in the past. This program will provide resources for women to help them make sound business decisions.”

MSWIA is based on a program developed in the Midwest. Annie’s Project tells the story of a woman who grew up in a small farm community with a goal of marrying a farmer. She did just that and spent her life learning how to be an involved business partner with her husband.

This seminar shares stories of Annie’s experiences with other farmwomen working in a complex, dynamic, evolving farm business environment.

Specific topics covered include business plans, estate planning, financial record-keeping, financial statements, human resources, marketing, risk management, technology security, and women and money.

The cost to attend is $60, which covers lunch, a notebook and support materials. For more information about the seminar, contact the local county Extension office, call (662) 325-3080 or visit http://msucares.com/womeninag/.