IFA Presidential Candidate Francie Gorman has said the necessary support structures are not in place to encourage women to enter farming and has called on the Department of Agriculture and farming organisations across the country to step up efforts to encourage female participation and recognition on farms.

Mr. Gorman was reacting to CSO figures showing that while there has been an overall increase in people working in Clare’s agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors between 2011 (3,028) and 2021 (3,615), the percentage of women working in these areas decreased from 12% to 6% of the overall workforce.

Speaking ahead of the IFA Presidential debate at the Inn at Dromoland in Newmarket-on-Fergus tomorrow night (Wednesday), Gorman said, “While agriculture has always been a male-dominated industry, there is no doubt that women contribute hugely to agribusiness and in sustaining rural life in Clare and across the country. However, the support structure is not in place to facilitate their working lives while they are vastly underrepresented at decision-making levels in policymaking and in many farm organisations.”

He continued, “It is one thing to have so few women enter farming, but it’s an entirely different and worrying development to see that Clare’s agriculture sector now has fewer women represented in its workforce compared to 2011. The latest CSO figures do not come as a surprise to me based on my conversations with farm women across Ireland.”

Kay, Tom and Francie Gorman

“The IFA, as well as other farm organisations, must take decisions to increase the involvement of women in our sector,” stated Mr. Gorman. “I attended a Women in Agriculture conference at the Virginia Show during the summer, where the take home messages for me were the need for enhanced childcare supports in rural Ireland, targeted use of gender quotas, and more flexibility around what time of the day meetings are held. We cannot continue to expect our sector to prosper without supporting farm women who have an immense contribution to make to our industry.”

“The Department of Agriculture should be at the forefront of efforts to encourage female participation and recognition on farms, but the Minister also needs the full backing and support of farming organisations if we are to reverse what is a worrying, though not entirely unexpected, trend of farm women exiting the sector and women abandoning plans to enter the sector,” he added.

Gorman, one of two Presidential candidates, is a suckler, beef and sheep farmer from Ballinakill, County Laois.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow night’s Presidential debate for Clare IFA members at the Inn at Dromoland, he said, “I will rebuild and restore the strength and reputation of IFA as an organisation that influences policy making, respects and responds to the concerns of all members and, most importantly, delivers positive results for the farmers of this country.”