Farm machinery firm’s use of models sparks ‘sexism’ debate

A farm machinery company has found itself at the centre of a debate on sexism for hiring two models for its display during a recent UK farm machinery show.

The firm, Agrifac, hired two models to pose for photographs at its stand at LAMMA 2019, the UK agricultural machinery show in Birmingham.

Agrifac, which specialises in sprayers and sugar beet harvesters, put out tweets on social media showing the models with carry bags advertising the brand saying: “Come and see the girls at Lamma Show today and tomorrow in Hall 9! Don’t forget to tag us in any selfies with them.”

The models also accompanied a representative for the firm accepting an innovation award at the show.

Since being posted on Tuesday (January 8), the tweets have gained widespread attention and has become a topic of debate in mainstream media.

Objection

Some Twitter users have voiced objection to the move.

Kate Lord, the manager of Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, dubbed the use of models at the show “an embarrassment for our industry and an insult to the women who work in it”.

She added: “The point made is about the male-dominated agricultural industry which needs to improve its image to recruit skilled women and girls into the sector.

“I’ve no doubt the models are fabulous at what they do and wish them all the best in their own career choices.

“The presumption that the audience at LAMMA Show and the winner of the Agrifac competition would be male [and heterosexual] is the real issue here,” she added.

Other Twitter users made comments such as: “The glamour girls are a bit embarrassing though! Farming should be following other industries, would they have been there if a female had won”; “there is a sexism in play here that’s just depressing”; and “employing women as decoration is not cool”.

Defence

The models have defended their work. Bec Quinn responded to the photos from the event, stating: “I am one of the females in this picture. We are intelligent women that made an informed choice to be there.

“If we didn’t feel comfortable doing the job, we would have refused. We have a right to earn money, show up to a job without being criticised and work in an industry we enjoy.”

The other model, Melissa Sharp, also tweeted: “I am one of the ladies in this picture so…we are hired for the company and are very aware of the work they do.”

When asked what she was hired to do, she replied: “Promote the brand and to engage with customers as anyone does at a normal job…people asked us for photos but we weren’t told to get photos with people.”