The Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group (WASG) has welcomed its first engagement with Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Martin Heydon. 

A number of measures to support the inclusivity of women in agriculture were discussed, including the need to increase the number of young women in primary agricultural courses, succession and Common Agricultural (CAP) policies.  

“Previous research has shown that just 10% of Teagasc courses are filled by women and while the gender balance is more equally split in Agricultural Science for Level 8 degrees, women tend to opt for more industry focused specialties,” chair of the group Hannah Quinn-Mulligan said. 

“This highlights the major succession issue on farms, where enthusiastic, young women have little expectation of inheriting land, but still have a passion for farming and commit to a career in agriculture. 

“It’s time these young women were given equal consideration when it comes to inheriting land,” Quinn-Mulligan added.

Women in agriculture lobby

Overall, Quinn-Mulligan said it was a positive first meeting and the group was heartened to see the department’s continued support for women in agriculture.  

“Minister Heydon spoke very movingly about the work that his own mother did on the family farm,” Quinn-Mulligan added.

“There is no doubt that he understands both the valuable input that women have on farms, and also the need to increase formal recognition of their work,” she concluded.

The WASG is made up of representatives from several farm organisations, including:

  • The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA);
  • 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;
  • West Women in Farming.

The group is urging Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to take action on CAP submission to “lead the charge” on achieving gender balance within Irish agriculture.