Use resources women offer

2 February 2001

Use resources women offer

WOMEN farmers in the UK and Ireland are an untapped resource, who need to be recognised for their ability and contribution to national farm incomes, instead of being marginalised within the industry.

According to Nuffield scholar, Grainne Dwyer – who dairy farms with her husband in Ireland – compared with Norway, France, New Zealand and Australia, the UK and Irish farming industries do not support and encourage women farmers to their full potential.

"Research in the US shows that jointly operated farms had a 23% higher farm related income than husband-only operated farms. This is a major argument for the adoption of a jointly operated management approach that would lead to greater inclusion of women in the industry," said Mrs Dwyer.

Lack of recognition extends to the farming press, which tends to present farming as a male occupation and reinforces the farmers wife image, and also to providers of education and training, who fail to produce suitable and accessible farming courses for women, she said.

Greater influence in agricultural decision making organisations and discussion groups will further empower women farmers and benefit the industry, Mrs Dwyer believes.

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