Janet Bailey has dedicated her career to helping farmers remain economically viable and supporting women in the farming industry.
One of Janet Bailey’s earliest memories is of her dad standing next to towering forage sorghum plants on her family’s dairy farm in the early ‘80s. From those days in the Flint Hills of Kansas to present day, Bailey has not strayed far from her agricultural roots.
When she was younger, Bailey’s family raised grain sorghum, forage sorghum, alfalfa, wheat and native grasses to sustain their dairy cattle operation. After graduating high school, Bailey traveled to The Little Apple, a name fondly referring to Manhattan, Kansas, to study animal science, communications and political science at Kansas State University.
After graduating from K-State, Bailey dove head first into the agriculture industry. Prior to her 16-year tenure at Farm Credit, a farmer-owned lending service, Bailey worked for several producer groups in a variety of capacities. Presently, Bailey works as a legislative officer for Farm Credit focusing on public policy and industry relations.
“Fundamentally,” Bailey said, “the lending community is a group of people partnering with industry to help provide an engine for American agriculture.”
In addition to her work at Farm Credit, Bailey is involved in a number of organizations striving to push forward both women and agriculture.
Most notably, she serves on the executive board for Women Managing the Farm in Kansas. Bailey said the organization strives to provide women from across the agricultural spectrum—from combine drivers to bookkeepers to absentee landowners—a place to learn, mentor and grow.
Throughout her education and career, Bailey credits a significant portion of her successes to mentors.
“I think that’s what is so very special about agriculture and the sorghum industry,” Bailey said. “I look at people who have long worked in the sorghum industry, both as producer leaders and professional staff, and they place a high value on mentoring.”
She said she could not begin to place a value on the mentors and influencers she has met and hopes to model that for the women—and men—coming up behind her.
“I think that women are problem solvers,” Bailey said, “and that’s why, whether we’re in corporate America or our rural communities, we bring that passion. That’s something we can celebrate.”
This story originally appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine as a feature.