• Mary Kay Thatcher | Season 3 | Episode 13 | Blazing a Trail

November 20, 2018 2 Comments

Years ago, when I was a young(er) woman working in the crop insurance industry, I clearly remember a few women who were leaders in the industry.  One of those was Mary Kay Thatcher. Now, years later, I met her again and had the opportunity to photograph and interview an amazing woman in the ag industry.

Mary Kay was born and raised on an Iowa farm.  She found her way to Washington, D.C. where she has blazed a trail in agriculture policy.  She spent over three decades working on behalf of American farmers through the Farm Bureau and today is the Senior Lead of Federal Government Relations for Syngenta.  

In addition to her role in D.C. Mary Kay still has a farm back home in Iowa where she grows corn and soybeans and has a cow-calf operation.  She is a fifth-generation farmer but in the role of a land-owner. On that note, 47% of Iowa farmland is now owned by women, like Mary Kay! While she spends most of her time in D.C., advocating for agriculture, she also manages the farm back at home and comes back a few times a year to check on things.  I caught up with Mary Kay on one of those Iowa visits. We traveled to southern Iowa and our first stop was at the land where her cow-calf herd lives. She explained that she has mostly Angus cattle because that is what she was raised around. She spent her younger days showing the cattle and speaks fondly of that still today.  We then checked on the beans there, which were ready to be harvested and followed that up with a quick stop to check on another field of corn.

It’s clear that Mary Kay has a passion for agriculture, and she has spent a career spreading that passion and advocating for farmers.  While she may not consider herself an icon, she is to me. As one of the visible women in the industry, many years ago she left an impression on me, just as I’m sure she has with so many others.


2 Responses

Terryl O'Brien
Terryl O'Brien

December 04, 2018

I’ve known Mary Kay since she was born as she is family. I loved her parents and always enjoyed a visit to Iowa, especially enjoyed seeing the little one-room schoolhouse she went to grade school in. I’ve always been impressed with her integrity, love and devotion to the world of agriculture.
Her contribution in this field is immeasurable. I am so happy to see her being recognized for her work and dedication.

Deb Gangwish
Deb Gangwish

November 30, 2018

Mary Kay has been an inspiration to me from the first time I met her at a Nebraska Farm Bureau meeting. I love this woman and all she has done for agriculture. She is a humble trailblazer and has stayed grounded in common sense when working within the DC Beltway. I am blessed to still have the opportunity to work with Mary Kay in her new position and my service with the National Corn Grower’s Association. It’s women like Mary Kay who, like you said are icons and provide strength and courage to so many women who have aspirations to make a difference in the world of agriculture.
Thank you for all you do to highlight women in agriculture, most are just doing what they love so they never toot their own horn. I love seeing all the ways women are contributing to agriculture. Keep up the great work!

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