Pink tractor raises cancer awareness
QUEEN ANNE — Atlantic Tractor went pink for breast cancer support this past week with the unveiling of the area’s first pink John Deere tractor. The tractor was sold to farmer and breast cancer awareness advocate Beth Steeley of Queenstown.
Steeley is an organic farmer and a trained veterinary tech who raises goats, bees and a very rare breed of chickens. Her mission is to aid in the growth and development of women in agriculture as well as to promote breast cancer awareness.
Steeley saw her pink tractor for the first time at the unveiling on Sept. 19 in the showroom at Atlantic Tractor. With October being breast cancer awareness month, Steeley and Lynn Malkus-Lyons, spokesperson for Atlantic Tractor, agreed that the timing was perfect.
The idea to have a pink tractor came to Steeley, she said, after she read that John Deere had made custom tractors — white for the Queen of England and black for the Pope’s guard. John Deere also advertised pink tractors for breast cancer awareness.
Steeley, who has a personal connection (her aunt had experienced two devastating instances of the disease), wanted to use her tractor to encourage other women fighting breast cancer while raising awareness and bringing attention to women in agriculture.
Farm women often have it more difficult, said Steeley, adding women are often the center of farm operations, and women frequently make a habit of minimizing their own health concerns and hesitate to ask for help.
Steeley said she approached several dealerships and was met with surprise that she would want to purchase her tractor hay package in pink. After being turned down by others, Hunter Allen at Atlantic Tractor told Steeley, “Why not?”
Steeley said she was embarrassed with the attention at first, but she is grateful for the opportunity to represent not only women, but a less traditional approach to farming.
The 21-acre farmette in Queenstown is significantly smaller than the farm Steeley grew up on in Texas, but it isn’t going to stop her from thinking outside the box, she said. She has plans to grow vertically, optimizing the potential for more crops in a smaller space.
Steeley said eventually she would like to create a nonprofit to help people farm on small lots, taking five or 10 acres and finding a way to make it sustainable and profitable. Most government programs are not designed to help small farmers who want to be treated like a business not a hobby farmer, she added.
With help from other women, like Jenny Rhodes with the University of Maryland Extension Service, more resources are now available to help new farmers with workshops and tutorials, including entrepreneur coaching, she said.
“It is a great pleasure to see all the tractor salesmen here today in pink hats,” said Steeley. “Kudos to you all here. It has been a shared experience — taking Atlantic Tractor saying yes to the idea of a pink tractor, a community to support women in farming, and women encouraging other women to screen early for breast cancer. Now we include many others in the Atlantic Tractor family.”
The staff at Atlantic Tractor and Beth Steeley, seated, owner of the area’s first pink John Deere, unveil the uniquely colored tractor in the Atlantic Tractor showroom in Queen Anne.