A sexism row has broken out on Twitter over Agrifac’s decision to employ models to promote its sprayer machinery at the Lamma event.
The agricultural firm encouraged visitors to have their pictures taken with glamourous cheerleader models at the event in Birmingham on 9 January.
One of the women, Melissa Sharp, told the BBC she had a “great time” and she defended her role as “harmless”.
See also: Lamma 2019 – Agrifac Condor sprayer
Writing on Twitter, Ms Sharp said she was there to “promote the brand and to engage with customers as anyone does at a normal job”.
She said that other women had been happy to see them at the event because they “brightened up the day”.
— Agrifac UK (@AgrifacUKLtd) January 8, 2019
“People referring to us as blonde Barbie bombshells with no brain cells is disgusting,” she added.
Agrifac’s decision to employee the models has divided opinion on social media.
Kate Lord, farm park manager at Adam Henson’s Cotswold farm park, said it was an “insult to women” who work in the industry.
She tweeted: “The point made is about the male-dominated agricultural industry which needs to improve its image to recruit skilled women and girls into the sector.
“I’ve no doubt the models are fabulous at what they do and wish them all the best in their own career choices.”
The point made is about the male dominated agricultural industry which needs to improve its image to recruit skilled women and girls into the sector. I’ve no doubt the models are fabulous at what they do and wish them all the best in their own career choices.
— Kate Lord (@CotswoldKate) January 10, 2019
There is nothing better than seeing an attractive lady. However I'm certain that @AgrifacUKLtd @chris_agrifac need to think again about their marketing ploy. Unnecessary now a days.. @overthefarmgate I'm sure a well versed lady on their sprayer sales would be more beneficial.
— Jono Dixon (JD)🥛🥓🍗🥛 (@sunkfarmer) January 10, 2019
But other farmers have thrown their support behind Agrifac’s decision.
Lincolnshire grower Malc Parr tweeted: “Oooh the Agrifac girls. They brighten up any show.”
Chris Rothery tweeted: “As the one who took the photo as a grumpy old man it is still a pleasure to see attractive young ladies smiling to greet their customers. I also think Grid Girls should come back to F1!!!”
NFU president Minette Batters told The Times: “It’s all about choice. It is those girls’ right and I absolutely defend it.”
— FanXInc (@FanXInc) January 8, 2019
Super proud to be working with such a fantastic company like @AgrifacUKLtd at this years #lammashow19 meeting such lovely people & sharing with them all the great things #Agrifac does! pic.twitter.com/mGzjGOW6tx
— London Cheerleaders (@LNDCheerleaders) January 9, 2019
The models were employed by promotions company, Fan Xperience.
Its managing director Zoe Rutherford said: “These women are professionals who did a really good job and got a positive reaction from the people who were there.
“The negativity from people, many of whom weren’t at the event, has been really unfortunate.”
She added: “It is inappropriate for women to be told they are wearing the wrong thing. Women should be allowed to wear what they want to wear.”
Agrifac has been asked by Farmers Weekly to comment.