9 November 2001
Farm women forced out to find work

By Adrienne Francis

MORE women than ever before are being forced to leave their family farms to find additional work, reveals a recent survey.

One in three farm women are supplementing falling incomes by taking jobs such as teachers, nurses, secretaries and working in local government,

The Womens Food and Farming Union (WFU) survey comes just three years after 1999, when only one in 10 farm women worked off-farm.

WFU president Janet Godfrey described the trend as “alarming”. The implications for rural life are “quite frightening”, she said.

Women already do the accounts on many farms and start new farm enterprises. They are already involved in 80% of diversification projects.

But some rural women are returning to off-farm work at an age when their city counterparts can afford to retire.

Edith Critchley of Staffordshire WFU left her position on the family dairy farm two years ago. She now works for a local hospice.

“Once the farming crisis took hold on milk prices, I needed to find additional work – at 58 years of age,” she said.

Working long hours leaves less time to take part in voluntary activities. Parish councils, churches and village halls are all under pressure.

Sue Kinnersley of Warwickshire WFU is a Girl Guide leader. She said: “Many women simply havent got enough time anymore.”