Empowering Women in Agriculture: The Journey of Liz Spruell and Spruell Farms
Agriculture is a challenging industry, with its fluctuating markets, unpredictable weather patterns, and exhausting work. Add to that the gender disparities that have long plagued the field, and it becomes even more daunting. But one woman, Liz Spruell, has carved out her place in the agriculture industry while also becoming an empowering voice for women. Liz is the owner of Spruell Farms and has been passionate about farming since childhood. She is at the forefront of running her family farm and inspires other women to take up the reins in agriculture. The story of Liz Spruell is a shining example of how female farmers are turning the tide in agriculture, and shattering the glass ceiling, one crop at a time.
Meet Liz Spruell, a 4th generation farmer and proud owner of Spruell Farms.
This family-run operation has been thriving since 1947 when Liz's great grandfather first started it. For generations, the Spruell family has been passionately tending to the land and growing their crops. Now, under Liz's capable leadership, the farm continues to flourish. They currently cultivate an impressive 6000 acres of cotton, corn, soybeans, and wheat. Notably, their cotton is even sought after by Victoria’s Secret & Co. as part of their Cotton Journey. Join us as we uncover the remarkable story behind Spruell Farms and the incredible work Elizabeth, and her family are doing.
Spruell, a dedicated farmer with a 22-year background in banking, seamlessly blends her love for agriculture and finance. Raised on the farm, her close bond with her father, Sam Spruell, fueled her ambitions, and he continuously championed her dreams. While she excelled in the banking industry, Liz never lost sight of her ultimate goal - to return and lead the family farm. Armed with valuable insights gained from her banking experience, she has poised herself and the operation for ensured success of the farm for generations to come.
Sam Spruell was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, leading to the future planning for Spruell Farms. For five years, Liz worked through a succession plan, and that was certainly not always a simple journey. Initially, she grappled with numerous uncertainties and navigated learning the operation more intimately. Moreover, she also had to grapple with the emotional process of coming to terms with the possibility of losing her beloved father.
“Year three is a year of empowerment, and we really feel as though we are honoring the legacy. I always knew that I would come back and run the farm at some point in time. I had hoped to have the opportunity to work alongside him, however we weren’t awarded that privilege,” Spruell said.
Spruell Farm’s Alabama Farm Credit story began during their succession transition. “When we began getting more in depth in my financial training at the operation and exploring options for relationship, that’s when we moved our entire bank relationship to Farm Credit,” Spruell said. Alabama Farm Credit has continually shown their investment in providing creative solutions to sustain and expand the operation. “It’s an advisory type of relationship.” She found creative ways to deal with challenges and to grow by adopting innovative technologies that helped in improving yields, reducing costs, and enhancing efficiency.
Liz Spruell is now a board director at Alabama Farm Credit, but more notably, the first female elected board director in Alabama Farm Credit history.
“My election to the board two years ago was pivotal to me, both personally and professionally. As a client of AFC and having worked at other institutions, I knew I wanted to work for an organization like that. My role as a board director gives me that opportunity. With the experience and expertise, I’ve developed in treasury management, risks, and now day-to-day farm operations gives me the opportunity to be a strong advocate on the board. I can represent both sides, as I understand from the bank perspective and from the side of the farmer, providing mutually beneficial solutions,” Spruell said.
Liz Spruell's journey in agriculture has been an inspirational one. She has shown us that nothing can stop you from doing what you love, and a family legacy is infinite. Liz's dedication, passion, and hard work in farming have made her a role model for aspiring women in this field. She is not only an empowered woman in agriculture, but she is also encouraging other women to do the same. Her story is a beacon for all women who aspire to choose agribusiness as a career path. Liz Spruell is indeed a force to reckon with, and her journey in agriculture is nothing short of inspirational. Which is exactly why Victoria’s Secret & Co decided to include Spruell Farms as part of their new initiative, Cotton Journey. This is a concerted effort on the part of VS & Co. to source 50,000 bales of cotton purchased annually from minority owned farms in Alabama. Rather than using foreign, large-scale manufacturers, VS & Co. decided to be intentional with their supply chain. This effort, the first of its kind, will allow for continued growth of female and black-owned farms right here in Alabama.
What advice would you give to someone looking to grow their operation or start one from the ground up?
Know your business, know your numbers, but most importantly, it must be something you have an undying passion for. If you don’t love it, you will never grow it.