Westmeath dairy farmer Aisling Neville was appointed as a new Lakeland Dairies board member last week.

Neville was appointed to the board, following a recent keenly contested election.

Aisling, who grew up in Offaly but runs a 150-cow dairy herd in Moate, Co Westmeath which she took on at just 22 years old, says it was her positive experience on the Lakeland Dairies regional committee that encouraged her to go further.

“I didn’t see too many young people or women involved at board level. I believe we need both younger and older members on a board to get a balanced opinion.

"I have a strong background in farming, the science behind it, as well as the financial and business end of it.

'Good people around a table'

“You need to have good people around a table to drive a business forward and make good decisions,” she said.

Now an elected board member for the five-year term, Neville said her number one concern will always be the farmers who supply the co-op and maximising the milk price for them.

Commenting on the topic of gender balance, she sees her successful election as a sign of positive movement in the sector.

Now as a Lakeland Dairies board member, she encourages other female farmers to put themselves forward for similar leadership roles, the same way their male counterparts do.

'Voted in by my local farmers'

“My big fear was that if I got on to the board with a gender quota in place, people would say, ‘oh she is only there to meet the quota’. So, I am delighted that I was voted in on my own merit and nobody can say I was put in.

“I was voted in by my local farmers who are mainly men. That says to me that there is no need for gender quotas in agricultural organisations. What there is a need for is encouragement for young girls and women to get involved in farm organisations.

“I don’t want to be segregated as a woman in farming, I want us to play by the same rules and intensity as male farmers, because we are well able and I think I have proven that.”