Four young women in line for 'farmer of the year'
THE fairer sex is ploughing a furrow through the world of farming.
In a profession traditionally dominated by men, four women are putting their best welly forward after making it through to today's final to select the country's top young farmer.
Macra na Feirme national president Alan Jagoe said the highest number of female finalists in the history of the competition reflected the increase in the numbers of women now making a successful living from the land.
In the 13 years of the competition, run by the young farmers' body in conjunction with the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), all the winners have been men.
"It's great to see women getting involved in what was a male-orientated profession, becoming active farmers on the land," Mr Jagoe said.
"We would encourage as many women as possible to enter, these are highly skilled and highly capable farmers. Farming is one of the good news stories at the moment, exports are up and the industry is performing well," he said.
Six women entered last year's selection process for the Young Farmer of the Year competition, although none made it through to the final stages. The four women will be up against 21 men in today's final in the Seafield Hotel, near Gorey, Co Wexford
"They are strong candidates and reflect the reality that there are some great female farmers out there especially in terms of innovation," Macra na Feirme spokeswoman Aoife Helly said.
The four female finalists are: Aoife Ladd (19), Castletownroche, Co Cork; Caroline O'Neill (27), Bandon, Co Cork; Elaine Dempsey (24), Lisnalong, Co Cavan; Claire Rynn (33), Castlepollard, Co Westmeath.