Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has asked Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, how he will address the low level of female farm ownership in Ireland.
Carthy raised the parliamentary question in the context of the new Common Agricultural Policy earlier this week.
The Sinn Féin TD acknowledged that while there are “many female farmers across the country, the difficulty is that very few of them are recognised”.
“The level of female farm ownership is pitifully low,” he remarked.
“Just as we need young people to enter farming, we also need more women, which will make farming a more successful endeavour and ensure it makes an even more positive contribution to our society.”
“The evidence we have seen in other sectors is that statutory bodies such as Teagasc must be obliged to ensure that women enter training and education programmes, along with other measures.”
Female farm ownership in Ireland
He said the CAP can play a role by providing financial supports and encouragement.
“We all have a role to play in encouraging farm families to move beyond the notion that it is the eldest son or another son who automatically takes over the farm.”
“Farms can become richer and better places if a broad spectrum of young people and women are entering that process,” he added.
In response, McConalogue said that gender equality is a “key priority” of his department.
“The programme for Government includes commitments to develop and implement a new national strategy for women and girls and to act on the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality.”
“The Department will represent the interests of the agri-food sector in policy development on these commitments,” he added.
He said the development of the CAP strategic plan, CSP, involves a number of stages, including a SWOT analysis and a needs assessment.
“The SWOT analysis in preparation for Ireland’s CSP identified gender inequality and the low levels of female participation in the agri-food sector, especially in leadership roles, as weaknesses.”
“The economic benefits of increasing female participation were identified as an opportunity.”
Some of the most high-profile farmers are women
He stated that he welcomes any ideas or initiatives to promote gender equality in the sector.
“Thankfully, we have seen improvement in recent years. It has been refreshing for the sector to see an increasing number of women take up leadership roles, including running and managing farms.”
“Some of the most high-profile, innovative, productive, and passionate farmers are women and are leading the charge in that regard.”
“Much of the generational renewal that is happening now is bringing significant improvement in that regard.”
He stated that it is important to bring balance and more gender equality throughout the agri-food sector, particularly at primary producer level.
“I am very happy to work together to facilitate bringing about that cultural change which will bring real benefit for the agri-food sector,” he concluded.