Michigan born, raised and still living there today, Paige Harris is a proud woman in ag and one with a background to suit.
Her tenure in the industry that feeds and fuels the world is as strong as they come, starting back at the young age of 9 when she showed cattle and began helping on her family’s Black Angus farm. She was born into the industry, and her passion for ag is something that has guided her throughout her entire professional career.
Future farmer of America
Outside of helping on the family farm, Paige was actively involved in 4-H and FFA throughout high school. In fact, she held several officer positions in FFA and credits much of her professional acumen to the role FFA played in her life.
“I was actively involved in 4-H and FFA growing up and always attribute the fact that I was able to make it through college and life to everything FFA had taught me. All the contests, interviews and leadership camps developed me into a professional. Also, the relationships I developed along the way are priceless. I run into those same people all the time in the ag industry.”
Paige took her time in FFA and early involvement in the ag industry seriously. So seriously in fact that she won state and national awards. She was runner-up for the state Star Farmer award and the recipient of the Beef Proficiency award her senior year. She also received an American Farmer award.
A slight deviation
When asked if she always wanted to work in the ag industry, the answer wasn’t always clear-cut for Paige.
“There was a short time when I first started college, I went into the premed program at Michigan State University and thought I wanted to be a part of that world. As I took classes and explored a completely different world, I realized that I was missing the ag industry."
That quick deviation could not keep her off her right path — the one that led to agriculture. She eventually switched to Ferris State University and pursued a degree in business management with the intent of moving home to help run the family farm and find a career in agriculture. She also spent some of her college years working at the Michigan State University Beef Barn while attending classes. Now, her future looked as clear as ever.
Back on path
After finding her calling to be back home on the farm, Paige quickly got to work. She even purchased her very first herd of Black Angus cattle, which is now one of her favorite memories.
“I have a picture of when I purchased my own herd, and my dad and I moved them home. We were weighing all of them and retagging them with pink tags and our number system to show they were mine in the herd. The picture shows dad and me working the chute and me handing him the tagger. This was a pivotal point in my life where I was officially his partner and all of the work and dedication to this farm had come to this moment.”
And her career in the ag industry didn’t stop there. She wanted to do more, so she took a page from her favorite female role model, her mother, and began selling crop insurance and built her book of business, much like her mom did 30 years ago.
“She has been selling crop insurance for 27 years. She built her book of business all on her own. Around 30 years ago, when she started it, it was very unheard of for a female to be doing what she was doing. She had to travel around the state and ask for business, all while having a family and trying to provide for that family.”
To say the least, Paige’s mom was and still is very influential in her life, and someone she looks up to and turns to for advice.
“She taught me that it’s not always going to be all sunshine and daisies on the way to success. There were a lot of ups and downs for her along the way and I saw them without realizing it. … She also taught us to do things for ourselves and be self-sufficient. She taught me that nothing is promised and to work for it and earn it. And to never have excuses or reasons why something isn’t working out.”
New additions to the cattle farm
In 2020, Paige exchanged wedding vows with her husband, Brian. Brian is a crop insurance adjuster and raises his own herd of Simmental/Angus cattle. After getting hitched, Brian moved to Paige’s family farm and brought his herd with him.
“My husband and I work alongside each other every day. We raise cattle together and run the farm. We both have ag careers and bounce different ideas off each other when needed. We both understand the challenges with the industry, and I think that is very helpful when it comes to understanding one another.”
Some quality time with … Stine!
As if running a cattle farm and crop insurance business isn’t enough, have we mentioned that Paige is also a regional sales agronomist (RSA) for Stine? As an RSA, Paige supports Stine’s sales reps in Michigan and New York with anything from sales logistics to agronomic support. She also is charged with recruitment in the area, where she seeks new individuals to join the Stine sales team. Paige notes that as an RSA, she enjoys supporting her team and their growers and watching the exciting new trait platforms perform firsthand in fields in her region.
“In the early days of the seed business, it was all about the genetics. Being the best simply meant having the highest-yielding genetics. … Now, success requires access to both great genetics and superior traits. … Stine’s unique position enables the company to partner with all the trait developers in the industry to offer growers the highest-yielding genetics on the market.”
A proud woman in ag
From her hometown of Ithaca, Michigan, to the territories she covers in the eastern Corn Belt and northern East Coast, Paige’s work ethic and passion for agriculture are an inspiration to us all. She works hard and enjoys the challenge.
“I think the most interesting challenge I’ve had to tackle as a woman in ag is proving that I don’t need to be held to a different standard than everyone else. I can do and will do just as much as — if not more than — the competition. As a woman in the ag industry, it is important that we are held to the same standards as everyone else.”
And when asked to give her best piece of advice to young women seeking a role in the ag industry, she had two things to say to the next generation:
- Get involved. “I think the best thing a female could be is involved. Get involved in 4-H, FFA or Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers group. The more knowledge about your area and the people in it, the better you can be involved with what is happening in the ag world. By surrounding yourself with like-minded people, you empower yourself without knowing it.”
- Work hard. “Prepare to work hard. Not just because you are a female but because people in the ag industry know how to work hard and are determined people. To be competitive, one must do the same as the others. Having a good work ethic and determination to excel in the industry is a must if you are going to thrive in the ag industry.”
At Stine, we’re fortunate and humbled to work with some of the best women in the ag industry, and Paige is no exception. Thanks for letting us share your story, Paige! You give the next generation of women in ag so much to look up to!