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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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WASG elects Mountbellew Ag College principal as new chair

Dr Edna Curley has been elected as the new chairperson of the Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group (WASG).

She will move to fill the shoes of Hannah Quinn-Mulligan, who founded the voluntary group – made up of a representative from each of the “leading” farming organisations – and served as its first chairperson.

The official handover occurred at the ICMSA offices in Co Limerick, where representatives from each farming organisation were present.

Dr. Curley is the current principal of Mountbellew Agricultural College in Co Galway.

She secured the position in June 2019, nearly two decades to the day after she first graduated from what is Ireland’s oldest agri college.

Dr Curley

Speaking following her election, Dr Edna Curley said:

“It is a great privilege to have been elected as the new Chairperson of the Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group.”

“Since its inception, the group has made an invaluable contribution to the ag sector, highlighting the gender imbalance present in Irish agriculture.”

“The WASG aim to tackle inclusivity within the agricultural sector and ensure that women receive fair representation for their work.”

“I do hope that I can contribute to this goal and continue the sterling work of its outgoing chairperson, Hannah Quinn-Mulligan.”

Hannah Quinn-Mulligan

Quinn-Mulligan added:

“Dr Curley has been tireless in her support for women in agriculture and, as principal of Mountbellew Agricultural College, has spearheaded the launch of the tractor skills course for women there this year.”

“She combines the knowledge of what needs to be done with the ability to get things done. That skill set will be vital at the next stage to progress the cause of women in rural Ireland.”

Reflecting on her time since the group was formed, Quinn-Mulligan continued:

“It is incredible to think that just over a year ago, we started the group.”

“It was an uphill battle, but with two CAP policies now in place to support farming women, it shows what you can do when women and men come together from across the rural community to support a cause.”

“I would like to thank everyone for their support, and I have no doubt that Dr. Curley will continue to drive things forward.It has been an honour to lead such a talented group of women.”

Achievements of the WASG in the past year: 
  • Successfully campaigned for a 60% TAMS grant for women over 40 – an increase from the standard 40%. This policy was based on the fact that less than 4% of TAMS money going to female farmers in the last CAP.
  • Successfully campaigned for the option of female-only knowledge transfer farm discussion groups. This was based on the fact that there were just 3,173 female farmers out of 19,576 participants in the last CAP. Some countries have zero female participants in certain sectors.
  • Successfully campaigned for the first National Women in Agriculture Dialogue.
Women in farming in Ireland

These mark the first time in the history of the Irish State that the government has introduced specific supports for women in the Common Agricultural Policy.

CSO results indicate women account for 16,900 or 13% of the total 130,216 farm holders in Ireland (June 2020).

At the same time, there were 75,113 female farm workers (family and regular non-family workers), equating to 27% of the total 278,600 in Ireland.

According to the group, this points to over 58,000 women working in farming without visibility and without status as a farm holder.

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