The 2009 Farm and Ranch Show kicked off yesterday at the Northlands AgriCom with three new programs, including Women in Agriculture.

“Women are very important decision makers in business, particularly on the farm,” said Paul Lucas, director of agriculture at Northlands. “We wanted to offer them opportunities to have an escape off the farm.”

Lucas hopes that a number of unique seminar sessions will draw a larger number of women to the show. The Women in Agriculture sessions range from relaxation to appearances by celebrity chefs and aim to provide women with ideas for stress and time management, marketing programs and allow women in agriculture to share their stories.

Marie Stelmach opened the event by sharing some of her experiences on the farm with her husband and current premier, Ed Stelmach.

“Those first years were difficult to say the least, I was on the farm with two small children, milking cows and raising chickens while Ed continued to work in the city,” she said.

This is the 43rd edition of the show and it features more than 400 exhibitors, industry seminars, Northlands Performance Horse Sale and the Canada National College Finals Ro­deo. The show runs until Saturday.