More support must be given to women becoming farm managers, Sinn Féin MEP for the midlands northwest Chris MacManus has said.

Speaking from Brussels, MacManus highlighted that Ireland is among the five lowest EU member states when it comes to women managing farm holdings.

“Only 11% of farm managers in Ireland are women. This in sharp contrast to countries like Latvia or Lithuania, where women account for 45% of all managers,” MacManus said.

“In the short term, achieving at a minimum the EU average, which stands at 28%, will be an uphill struggle but the work must start now.”

Integration

The Sinn Féin MEP said a change of attitude would be central to addressing the issue.

“I think it’s fair to say that Ireland is generally fairly progressive on most issues, but it seems we still have a distance to bridge in addressing imbalances in agriculture.

“The long held Irish tradition of choosing one son to take over the farm, or dividing it between the sons, has resulted in an endemic exclusion of women from this career choice.”

MacManus has called for women’s contributions to be recognised when it comes to farm succession planning.

“When we talk about saving the family farm model, it is a deliberate reference to our Irish farm structure, which is characterised by all members of the family contributing to the success of the farm,” MacManus continued.

“The new CAP and Rural Development Programme must look at the factors that create barriers to women becoming farm managers, such as access to land and access to finance.

“At national level, we must ensure we are encouraging young women to study degrees such as agricultural science, to do the green cert course or be a part of the development of the innovative technology, which will transform agriculture in the coming years.”