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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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‘My department’s records currently show 26,507 women farming either solely or in a joint venture’

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has said he is “committed to delivering greater numbers of female farmers in Ireland”.

McConalogue made the remark in response to a parliamentary question Sinn Féin’s Pauline Tully raised in recent weeks.

Female farmers in Ireland 

The minister pointed to the CSO Labour Force Survey 2019, which showed that 13% of workers in the primary agriculture, forestry and fishing sector were female.

He added that for 2020, the figure was 15%, the highest since 2010. Furthermore, the CSO’s 2016 Farm Structure Survey recorded 71,700 women working on farms. Less than one quarter (16,100) were farm holders.

“My department’s records currently show 26,507 women farming either solely or in a joint venture, whereas the corresponding figure for men is 128,167.”

He said the new CAP Regulations place a particular focus on promoting women’s participation in the socio-economic development of rural areas, with special attention to farming.

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“Member States are required to strengthen their capacity in gender mainstreaming and in the collection of sex-disaggregated data.”

Gender inequality 

In preparation for Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan (CSP), the SWOT analysis identified gender inequality as a weakness. It identified the economic benefits of increasing female participation as an opportunity.

“The Needs Assessment for the CSP points to the need to increase opportunities for women in agriculture and business development.”

The minister said he has “engaged extensively” with stakeholders on the future of CAP.

He revealed these include supports to promote gender equality, and the development of the new CSP continues in advance of the end-of-year deadline.

In addition, he added, the new stakeholder strategy for the Irish agri-food sector, Food Vision 2030, recognises the” important contribution” of women to the sector’s long-term sustainability.

Furthermore, he said it includes several actions to promote and improve gender balance at all levels. Also, it proposes holding a national dialogue on women in agriculture.

“More can be done in this space,” he concluded.

CAP supports for farming women

Meanwhile, the minister has announced supports to “promote gender equality in farming” in the next CAP.

The package of measures, including:

  • An increased rate of grant aid of 60% for women aged 41-55 years under Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes (TAMS);
  • Women-only Knowledge Transfer (KT) Groups;
  • A call under the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) initiative for proposals to examine women’s participation in agriculture.
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