Farmers wary of daughters taking reins

Caitriona Murphy

While women may have succeeded in being seen as equal to men in many areas of work, it appears that some farmers still consider them to be their second choice when it comes to taking over the family farm.

A new report found that almost 9pc of farmers who do not have a successor said that they 'only had daughters' as a reason for not identifying who should take over the family farm.

The Macra na Feirme survey on farm inheritance and succession also hinted at a reluctance among farmers to encourage women into farming. One in 10 farmers who did not encourage their children to farm said it was because they had no sons.

The survey also found farmers were unwilling to pass farms to their daughters because the land could leave the family name.

Almost one-quarter (22pc) of farmers who had not already identified a successor said it was important that the land stayed in their own family name. Report author Dr Pat Bogue of Broadmore said this indicated some reluctance to transfer to married daughters who no longer have the family name.


Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness said more research was needed to examine why farmers were so keen to pass farms to their sons instead of daughters.

"We know the system works, we know women can farm, but there is still a tradition there that men inherit the farm," she said.

She added that the poor visibility of women in farming and within agricultural organisations could also be a factor in the reluctance of farmers to pass farms to their daughters.

"Perhaps young women need to make themselves more visible and express an interest in the farm, but in some cases women don't even see themselves as a potential successor for the family farm," said the MEP.

Meanwhile, the Macra report found that almost half (48pc) of the 462 farmers surveyed did not have a farming successor identified.

Some 29pc said this was because they had no children, while 24pc had not decided which child would be the successor and 20pc said their family was not interested.

Macra is to appoint a land mobility programme manager to follow up on the report's recommendations.

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