New initiatives in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan to improve the number of women in farming in Ireland are an “important development”, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said.

Alice Doyle, IFA farm family and social affairs chair, believes the measures in the next CAP will “hopefully” address gender imbalance and support more women to farm. 

Doyle has said that the contribution of women to Irish agriculture is significant but often undervalued. 

“Ireland is lagging far behind our European Union counterparts when it comes to the share of farms being managed or passed on to women,” she said.

“The most recent Central Statistics Office figures show that 13% of the agricultural workforce are women, compared with an EU average of 35%.”

Earlier this week (Tuesday, October 4) the government approved Ireland’s CAP strategic plan worth almost €10 billion.

The specific measures in the CAP 2023–2027 strategic plan to support more women to get involved in farming include: 

  1. Increased rate of grant aid of 60% for women aged 18-66 years under the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes (TAMS);
  2. Establishment of women-only knowledge transfer groups, based on the need to address shared challenges;
  3. A call for proposals to incentivise women’s participation in agriculture under european innovation partnerships (EIP);
  4. Improved recording, collection, and reporting on gender data across all CAP schemes;
  5. The national CAP network will be leveraged to increase the involvement of all women in the implementation of CAP. This will include events and support for women to lead such activities.

Doyle said that addressing gender inequality and increasing the opportunities for women to farm is essential to achieving sustainability in agriculture.

Earlier this year Elizabeth Ormiston, who was the first female chair of Cavan IFA, said that in her opinion some parents were ‘to blame’ for lack of women in farming.

Ormiston believed there was a mind-set within agriculture that did not recognise women for their work on a farm.

She said more needed to be done to not only recognise the role that women played in the sector in Ireland but also to encourage more women to participate in representative organisations.

Previously, Ormiston had accused the IFA of “regressing into the Dark Ages instead of progressing into modern times”.