Beef and sheep farmer Lucy- Jo McFarland, Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Lucy-Jo McFarland - beef and sheep, Tyrone

“I work as a relief milker and in poultry, packing eggs, as well as on my family farm. Down by my part of the country, it is all men and boys working on farms. There aren’t really women involved.

“There is not a lot of support for women in agriculture. My father when I was young would say farming is not really a woman’s job as a lot of people around us that are women got into accidents. I just didn’t listen, ploughed on and now he wouldn’t tell me no, he just lets me away with it.”

Dairy and poultry farmer Shona Heslip, Ballygawley, Co Tyrone.

Shona Heaslip - dairy and poultry, Tyrone

“I am here today as I am working in a man’s world; I have two sons and a husband at home on the farm, but I like to keep up to date with what’s going on. Especially in poultry, we have so many audits and Red Tractor inspections you need to be ahead. When it comes to the environmental things coming down the line, we really need to be switched on. It’s really seen as a male-dominated thing, but the colleges are great, there are so many more girls coming through. The main barrier to me would be physical strength, I don’t have the strength to do a lot of things, but I think a lot of the younger girls go to the gym and are strong.”

Sheep farmer Christine Robinson from the Glens of Antrim.

Christine Robinson - sheep, Antrim

“I came here today to learn a bit more about women in agriculture because I feel it can be very isolating for women. I’m just here to make sure I learn as much as I can from women who are far more experienced than I am. One of the main barriers preventing women going into farming is generational renewal. A lot of time men pass farms down to men, certainly where I live it’s quite common that it would be passed to the son and there’s a stigma that women aren’t able to do things the same way men are, but we absolutely are.”

Dairy farmer Lynne Johnston, Randalstown Co Antrim.

Lynne Johnston - dairy, Antrim

“I have a keen interest in the agriculture sector being the vice president of the Young Farmers Club of Ulster the last few years and I like to keep in with the network of the farming community. It’s a man’s world as they say, so [I’m] trying to get [it across] that women can do everything as well and just as good as a man. Especially when it comes to calving and animal husbandry, women have more of a caring nature when it comes to that aspect. Social media definitely helps break down the barriers, as we see more young girls out there now. We also see members of Young Farmers attending Greenmount doing agriculture courses.”

Sheep farmer Jemma Sayers, Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Jemma Sayers - sheep, Tyrone

“I have always had an interest in the agriculture industry growing up on a farm at home. With my job working with Moy Park you work with farmers a lot, being a woman I felt it would be very interesting to come to the conference. It doesn’t seem as glamorous of a job and it is seen as hard work in a way. Stereotypically it is seen as a man’s world and it is clear today that tables are turning on that.”

Beef farmer Sarah Haughey, Co Armagh.

Sarah Haughey - beef, Tyrone

“I work with Moy Park on the free-range team, I came today as part of my job. It is important to get out and to meet other women working in agriculture and to see what else is going on in the industry. I’d say it’s probably quite intimidating, especially for younger girls coming into a male-dominated environment. We have been working in it a couple of years, so it’s not as bad for us but definitely when you’re younger coming in, usually everyone who is involved in farms are male.”

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