17 April 1998
Farming women call for recognition

FARMERS wives are the new agricultural entrepreneurs, branching off into small businesses while their husbands complain about falling prices and interference from Brussels, a conference was told.

The Womens Farming Unions annual conference, at the University of Londons Wye College, in Kent, was told how farmers wives have started a plethora of farm businesses including pick-your-own-produce, childrens farms, farm shops, farm trails and bed-and-breakfasts.

Women are also increasingly managing the finances and the complex paperwork of quotas and subsidies, yet they are still not being paid nor being made legal partners in the businesses they ran, according to Ruth Gasson, research fellow at the college.

Studies have shown that some women work 60-80 hours a week on the farm. Meg Stroude, union chairman, said women wanted recognition that they were “doing a proper job”.

The Daily Telegraph cites the examples of two women who have become role models for farmers wives. Helen Browning, chairman of the Soil Association and one of Britains leading organic farmers, and Mary James, the only woman to make up the National Farmers Unions ruling council are both successful farmers in their own right.

  • The Times 17/04/98 page 11