The Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group (WASG) is calling on male and female farmers to take part in a national farm paperwork strike to mark International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) representative to the group Mona O’Donoghue-Concannon said that the role of sorting farm paperwork and red tape “often falls to the woman in a farm family”.
She said: “However, this work is often undervalued and CSO figures show that 70,000 women farm every day without any recognition.
“To mark this, we’re asking women and men to take a day off from the farm paperwork and highlight the vital role women play on farms across the country, whether it’s milking cows, lambing ewes or doing the paperwork.”
WASG also described recent results it obtained from a farm inclusivity survey in conjunction with the University of Limerick as “worrying trends”.
The survey found that over one quarter of male respondents said they had received young farmer tax relief on land transfer in comparison with just 7.1% of women. WASG said this shows that fewer women inherit farms at a young age.
Males surveyed said access to land was the biggest barrier to farming, whereas females cited lack of encouragement, family rivalry, child support and access to land.
The work also revealed that double the number of men received TAMS payments for farm machinery and buildings.
WASG said that figures it had obtained prior to this survey showed that less than 1% of farms in the country have a woman registered as an official partner.
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) representative to the group Vanessa Kiely O’Connor welcomed the Department of Agriculture and Minister Charlie McConalogue’s decision to take WASG’s CAP proposals on board.
“Ireland was just one of two [European Union] member states with specific policies to support women out of all the CAP plans submitted to Brussels and there is no doubt that the WASG played a key role in this,” she said.
She outlined the measures put forward by the WASG in its CAP submission last year, including a 60% TAMS grant for women over 40, the option of female-only knowledge transfer discussion groups, a better breakdown of gender aggregated data and a commitment to a national woman in agriculture dialogue as outlined in Food Vision 2030.
However, O’Connor said: “It was disappointing that Minister McConalogue has capped the TAMS grant for women at 66 years of age and this is an area where we hope he will show further flexibility.
“We also need him to address the issue of the requirement of Level 6 in agriculture to access TAMS. This is a barrier to women who have been farming all their lives or in partnership with a spouse or parent.
“We would ask that he would engage with agricultural colleges to develop a way to recognise prior learning for women who can prove they have been farming for at least three years before accessing the grant.”