Less than 4% of TAMS (Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme) payments went to female farmers.

Out of 20,612 payments since 2016, just 751 were made to women, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by a group to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

In addition, just 97 of those payments were made to women under 35 years of age.

The figures were obtained by the Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group (WASG), a newly formed group, made up of representatives from several farm organisations.

Member organisations of WASG include:

  • The Irish Farmers’ Association;
  • Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA);
  • Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA);
  • Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA);
  • Macra na Feirme;
  • Irish Organic Association (IOA);
  • South East Women in Farming; and
  • West Women in Farming.

WASG is calling on the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to take action on its common agricultural policy (CAP) submission and tackle inclusivity and the gender balance in Irish agriculture.

TAMS is seen as key to supporting investment and prosperity on farms and the low take-up by female farmers is a worrying signal for the future viability of female-run farms, where already just 12% of farmers are women.

Chair of the group, Hannah Quinn-Mulligan, said: “Agriculture is one of Ireland’s most valuable industries and family farms are the lifeblood of rural Ireland but unfortunately, research shows there is an inclusivity issue where the work of women on farms is not officially recognised and young women are less likely to be considered or encouraged to be farm successors.

“Investment in machinery, equipment and sheds are seen as significant indicators that a sector is thriving and future-proofing but this does not seem to be the case for female farmers.

“CSO [central statistics office] figures show that up to a quarter of work done on farms is done in part or fully by women but female farm ownership and partnership figures don’t match this.

“The aim of the group is to ensure that women across rural Ireland receive the official recognition for the work they do on farms and that young women feel they have prospects inside the farm gate they call home.”

Female farmers in numbers

Other figures secured by the group, also through FOI request, also show a low level of female participants in the Knowledge Transfer Scheme.

Knowledge Transfer schemes included just 3,173 female farmers out of 19,576 participants.

A sector breakdown further shows that just 565 women – out of 3,567 overall participants – signed up to dairy Knowledge Transfer groups, and 15 counties did not have any dairy groups with women as members.

Some counties were particularly low, just three and seven women took part in Knowledge Transfer groups in Longford and Cavan respectively.

Across sectors the breakdown was as follows:

  • Tillage – 53 women (out of 887) – 22 counties did not have any groups with women;
  • Sheep – 568 women (out of 4,078) – nine counties did not have any groups with women;
  • Poultry – 13 women (out of 228) – 25 counties did not have any groups with women;
  • Beef – 1,799 women (out of 8,069) – one county did not have any groups with women (but 14 counties had less than 50 women);
  • Dairy – 565 women (out of 3,567) – 15 counties did not have any groups with women.
  • Forestry – 205 women (out of 1,507).