Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is warning that he will refuse male candidates for State boards which have not done enough to address gender imbalances.

The Minister has 12 State bodies under his control, with a distinctly male-dominated look to many of them.

The 12 State boards are: An Bord Bia, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board, Coillte CGA, Horse Racing Ireland, the Irish National Stud Company Limited, the Marine Institute, the National Milk Agency, Rásaíocht Con Éireann, the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, Teagasc and the Veterinary Council of Ireland.

Minister McConalogue will fire a warning shot to these boards to address their gender balance, when he opens the inaugural National Dialogue on Women in Agriculture in Laois on Wednesday morning.

The event is set to examine gender issues in farming and explore how the gender balance can be improved.

Women, while playing a significant contribution to farming in Ireland, currently account for only 13% of all farm holders.

The SWOT analysis in preparation for Ireland’s CAP strategic plan identified gender inequality as a weakness for the country, while the economic benefits of increasing female participation was identified as an opportunity.

In November 2021, Minister McConalogue introduced a 60% TAMS grant rate for women, new women-only Knowledge Transfer (KT) groups; and a call under the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) initiative for proposals to examine women’s participation in agriculture.


This week, the Minister warned that more women need to be appointed to the 12 State boards for which he is responsible, saying that he will refuse board nominations from bodies that are not hitting gender representation targets.

“There is an under-representation of women on these Boards and I am reiterating the request of my predecessors in recent years in asking the chief executives of agri-business companies to support women within their companies expressing an interest in being appointed to the boards of State bodies and to encourage those who may not as yet have considered putting themselves forward,” he said.

“Some bodies have made great progress, other are lagging behind and we can’t have a position where we are not reaching these important targets. Therefore, over the course of the Government, all State bodies can to leave no stone unturned in reaching these targets. I will be left with no other option but to refuse nominations put forward if they don’t help reach our gender targets.”

I will be left with no other option but to refuse nominations put forward if they don’t help reach our gender targets

Government policy has a target of at least 40% for representation of each gender on State Boards.

Only four of the 12 boards under Minister McConalogue currently meet this target: An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Coillte, the Irish National Stud and the Veterinary Council of Ireland.

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has the worst gender balance, with a single appointment of one man and no women on its three-person board currently.

The National Dialogue on Women in Agriculture will hear from Germany’s former Agriculture Minister Julia Klockner and Glanbia CEO Siobhan Talbot.

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