Women in Ag: Agricultural Marketing Specialist Michele Roberts

by | Mar 22, 2024

March is celebrated as National Women’s Month, a time to recognize the many accomplishments of women. There’s a common misconception that agriculture is a male-driven field. In North Carolina, there are many trail-blazing women that are not only making their impact felt at the farm level, but also on national agricultural boards, leading as ag researchers and professors at our universities and companies and as owners of processing plants and other ag-related businesses. The latest Census of Agriculture shows that 33 percent of all agriculture producers in North Carolina are female. Women run nearly 22,000 farms in the state with an average farm size of 131 acres and average total production value of $353,278.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also benefits from the knowledge and leadership of women with nearly half of the leadership positions at the department filled by women. The Marketing Division of the NCDA&CS has women running farmers markets, ag centers and many of the programs that support farmers in the state. These women demonstrate a passion for the industry, decades of experience and a solid base of guidance and support for the farmers, vendors and consumers they serve. This week we are introducing you to a few of the women that help promote agriculture through their roles at the NCDA&CS.

Today we highlight Michele Roberts, agricultural marketing specialist.  Michele Roberts has worked with the NCDA&CS Marketing Division for more than 14 years. She started her career as a market news reporter, then horticulture marketing specialist, agribusiness development representative and now she currently holds a position as a marketing specialist in Western NC.

As a marketing specialist Roberts promotes N.C. crops and products. She works closely with the apple growers, tomato growers and the N.C. Farm to School program. This program brings locally grown food to students across the state. She is a liaison to growers who participate in the program, disseminating orders to each grower and communicating with the NCDA&CS Food Distribution Division on each order placed.

Roberts also assists with promotions, including the Got to Be NC Festival, Southern Farm Show, Flavors of Carolina, N.C. Mountain State Fair, the N.C. State Fair and the N.C. Apple Festival. She also assists at other commodity association events and Farmers Market events.

Agricultural roots run deep for Roberts. “My dad and both grandfathers farmed on a small scale.” said Roberts. “We had cattle and horses when I was growing up. I graduated from N.C. State with bachelor’s degrees in animal science and agricultural business management.” Roberts and her husband own cattle. Her brother and cousin have separate cattle businesses. And yet other cousins grow sweet corn, hay, and pumpkins and operate an agritourism destination. “I have a passion for NC agriculture and this job helps me keep close ties with the growers,” she added, “to help them find new ways to market their products and stay informed on issues with agriculture. I enjoy promoting everything grown, raised, caught and made in NC.”

Roberts has seen many changes with agriculture, including the way technology has advanced in the areas of mechanization, increased crop production and yield, farming with the assistance of GPS, integrated pest management and in the ways products are marketed to consumers.

“Farming is a difficult job and I think it’s important to try to educate everyone on what it takes to bring our food from the farm to the table,” said Roberts. “Covid brought about a new awareness of local food sources when there were shortages in mainstream grocery stores. People found new sources on local farms. I would like to emphasize to everyone the importance of local food, the traceability of our food sources and having control of our food chain supply. It is my hope that the general public begins to take a greater interest in urging our federal government to protect our food supply and maintain American ownership of our large production agriculture companies.”