'I was worried farmers wouldn't pick me because I'm a woman' - 24-year-old on starting her own dairy unit
Ireland may lag behind the EU average of females in farming, but our reporter reveals that trend is about to change
A recent Labour Force Survey shows that Ireland lags far behind the EU average when it comes to the percentage of females working in agriculture. While the EU average is 35pc, the current Irish figure stands at just 11.6pc.
Some of Ireland's brightest female farmers feel it's time we called a halt to the traditional structure of handing down the farm to the eldest son and that women with an interest in agriculture should look toward a farm structure that works for their lifestyle.
While Maighread Barron's father was happy for his daughter to enter a four-way farm partnership with himself, his wife Catherine and son John on the family dairy farm in Ballinamult, Co Waterford, following a stint of working on farms locally, the Dairy Business graduate was keen to be her own boss.
"I think we all would've gone a bit mad working together because there would've been so many different opinions in the mix. I wanted somewhere where everything would be down to me and I'd have my own authority," says the 24-year-old.
With the aim of being her own boss in mind, Maighread has started a 15-year lease on a 100ac dairy farm in Clonea, Co Waterford, where she plans to milk a 106-strong herd consisting of British Holstein Friesians and dairy cross-breds.
While Maighread is currently preparing for her first round of calving on the farm, she admits she was worried when pitching to farmers that they wouldn't want to lease to a female farmer.
"I was worried farmers wouldn't pick me because I'm a woman and you have to build up a reputation when leasing, but this farmer liked my ideas and knew I wouldn't steam roll him out," she explains.
She adds that she has struggled with the stigma that exists around women in farming, especially when she was working on farms, but hasn't let it hold her back.