The number of female farmers has dropped by over 1,000, according to information from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Some 17,345 female farmers were listed as being the main holder of a farm in 2010, but this dropped to 16,100 in 2016 – the latest figure available.

The CSO confirmed the next farm structure figures, which will show the most up-to-date breakdown, would be released in 2022.

Ireland has long had a gender imbalance in terms of farm ownership, despite CSO figures also showing that a quarter of farm labour is done by 71,100 women.

The tradition of passing farms from farmer to son and the importance of a surname attached to land have previously been identified as barriers for land passing to women.

Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella group representing European farmers, ran a webinar on Tuesday on how women could progress through the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Green Deal. Access to finance and acknowledgement of work were key issues highlighted in the event.

Dr Margreet van der Burg, a senior lecturer and researcher in gender studies at Wageningen University said that, “women are doing the work and it is going unseen.”

She explained that it was not men in general that were the issue, but the institutions and farm organisations that needed a serious shake up in terms of accepting women as farmers and providing them with support. The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) told the Irish Farmers Journal they support positive action measures to address the gender gap on Irish farms and to ensure investment incentivising positive change.