Culture of leaving farms to sons and not daughters needs to change, says McConalogue

Culture of leaving farms to sons and not daughters needs to change, says McConalogue

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue: 'We need to face facts and the culture is still largely a male-dominated sector and the crucial role women play is often not fully understood, fully understood, appreciated, or recognised.'

The culture of handing down farms to a son or a nephew has to change to remove barriers for women in farming, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has said.

Announcing the new National Conference on Women in Farming, to be chaired by former tánaiste Mary Coughlan, he also said attitudes to women farmers must change.

Ms Coughlan ruled out a return to political life while speaking to reporters.

Increasing the visibility and status of women in farming will be the focus of a national dialogue on women in agriculture to be held on St Brigid's Day.

The dialogue will examine the  policy, financial or societal impediments preventing more women getting involved in a career in agriculture.

“It's very much time to take the role of women farmers out of the shadows and put them firmly in the spotlight and I believe this national women's dialogue will do that,” Mr McConalogue said.

He agreed an attitude shift was required among male farmers to recognise the importance of women in farming and the culture in which the handing down of a farm to a son or nephew instead of a daughter or niece has to change.

He said: “We need to face facts and the culture is still largely a male-dominated sector and the crucial role women play is often not fully understood, fully understood, appreciated, or recognised.”

Green Party junior minister Pippa Hackett, who is a farmer, said she often hears anecdotes from women who will be asked ‘can I speak to the boss?’ when visitors visit their farm.

Ms McConalogue has received Government approval for the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill which will establish a new independent statutory authority to be known as the Agri-Food Regulator.

The objective of the new office will be to promote the principles of fairness and transparency in the agricultural and food supply chain, and enforce the rules on unfair trading practices.

He said it would ensure “we’re taking every step we can, putting maximum pressure on to ensure farmers are rewarded appropriately in terms of income for the work that they're doing.”

The regulator will have powers to investigate practices such as late payments to farmers and primary producers and be able to issue fines of up to €10m, or 10% of turnover, on companies found to be breaching these unfair trading practices.

Meanwhile, both Ms Hackett and Mr McConalogue said they would be against the banning of non-essential domestic flights when asked about the findings of an ESRI report which showed the majority of 500 young people aged between 16 and 24 would support the move to tackle climate change.

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