Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Report calls for special Dept unit for women in agriculture

Dr Pat Bogue
Dr Pat Bogue
Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Women should be allowed to register jointly with their husbands for herdbooks and single farm payments (SFP) in order to improve their status within the farming sector, according to a new report.

The Women in Agriculture report, which was prepared by Ms Lily Mulhall and Dr Pat Bogue on behalf of the National Rural Network (NRN), calls for major policy changes to improve the visibility of women in the industry.

The report recommends the establishment of a 'Women in Agriculture' unit in the Department of Agriculture, which would promote the social and economic contribution that women make to farming in Ireland.

CSO figures show that 27pc of the agricultural workforce is female and women's involvement in farming is growing.

In 2010, women contributed 36,554 average work units (AWU) on family farms, equating to 22pc of total AWUs in the sector.


In the decade 2000-2010, the number of spouses contributing AWUs to family farms showed an increase of 1pc, compared to a drop of 3pc in the AWUs of farm holders.

This indicates that female contribution to farm work is increasing relative to their male counterparts.

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Ireland lags far behind some of its European counterparts on the female ownership of land.

Department of Agriculture figures for 2012 show that 13pc of farm holders (15,500) were female and that this group owned 10pc of agricultural land in Ireland.

Women received just 8pc of the €1.2bn in SFPs last year. This is in stark contrast to studies in northern Spain, where women are sole owners of 58pc of the farms and receive 44pc of SFPs.

Spain also has a much higher level of female land ownership, with 36pc of all farms owned by women and 27pc of SFPs going to women.

"It is well documented that there are serious problems of gender inequality in Irish farm life, not just in the past but to the present day," said report author Dr Pat Bogue.

"The patriarchal model of land ownership, which implies that land is passed on from father to son has been endemic in the sector for many generations and shows little signs of change."

The NRN report recommended that agricultural policy and decision-making boards should be gender-proofed to include more women and that male/female farm partnerships should be incentivised.

It also recommended that the cut-off point of 35 years for stamp duty relief should be looked at.

Traditionally, farms are transferred to women at an older age than if the farm successor was a man.

Farms often only move into the ownership of a woman after the death of the farmer or if the land is bought by a woman.

Irish Independent

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