Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has said that he is open to suggestions on how to address the ‘culture’ surrounding women in agriculture to ensure they get the recognition they deserve.

The minister made the comments during a visit to Kilmallock Mart, Co. Limerick this week (Monday, October 4).

The Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group (WASG) has welcomed support from the minister, but says it needs to be backed by policy. 

Speaking at the mart, the minister purportedly said: “There’s no doubt that women have always been the anchor of many farms, but not necessarily the front face, and really they have been the drivers and managers on many farms. 

“There is more work to be done in relation to addressing that culture and in terms of initiatives and ideas we can do, that I’m open to listening, particularly to young women, about what would help and what would be productive in that regard.” 

The minister was speaking in response to chair of the WASG, Hannah Quinn-Mulligan’s question on what the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would do, not just for the active farmer, but the unrecognised farmer.  

Historical legacy for women in agriculture

Quinn-Mulligan put it to the minister that 70,000 women were actively working on farms every day, yet just 16,000 were in receipt of farm payments.  

The minister acknowledged the historical legacy that has faced women in agriculture saying: “I do think we also need to look at how we can change culture and attitudes, in relation to ensuring how for young women coming into agriculture, it is encouraged in the same way that young men are encouraged coming into agriculture, which hasn’t always been the case.” 

Quinn-Mulligan added that they had already met with senior Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) officials and Minister of State for Agriculture Martin Heydon.

During these meetings the WASG outlined how women could be supported, and indicated that it is now up to the minister to take up those policies and “put his money where his mouth is” when it came to addressing inclusivity in agriculture.  

An example of how he could do this is, not just in CAP policy, but in the upcoming Budget 2022, is by ensuring that the Food Vision 2030 commitment of funding a National Dialogue for women in agriculture is funded and supported, the WASG said.