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Females in farming

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Females in farming

THE pivotal role played by women in agriculture has been highlighted ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.

Eileen Hornell, Dumfries and Galloway’s agricultural relationship manager with Clydesdale Bank, has been sharing her thoughts on females in the sector.

She said: “People traditionally think of men as being the farmers, but in many farming businesses women have been the glue that holds everything together.

“The women I see on a daily basis have multiple roles – they are the financial administrators, responsible for the running of the household and the health and safety of employees and family, as well as helping on the farm. They are juggling many balls and solving many problems, and in short, they are integral to the running of the business.”

Eileen has noted ‘less of a masculine image now’ across the farming industry and added: “At auction marts for instance, there will usually be a 50:50 split of genders presenting their cattle and sheep in the sale ring. One thing we are also finding now is that many farmers are proactively looking for female staff, as some believe they are more empathetic with the livestock, or more careful from a health and safety point of view when handling machinery.

“We do have a growing number of women leading the direction of the agri-industry. Today, we also see female farmers taking the lead on financial management and strategic planning. We are also finding more and more farmer’s daughters returning home to take over the reins of the running of the family farm. They are often trained professionals, brimming with ideas on how to enhance the future of the business. They are the ones looking at the bigger picture, and thinking about ways to develop alternative income streams.”

She notes that diversification schemes on local farms are often authored of women and driven by them too, saying: “Often I’ve found that from holiday cottages to wedding venues, or farm shops to renewables, women can put innovative diversification plans in motion.”

The same is also true now of the agri world’s support networks. Eileen added: “The business advice side of farming was also considered male territory in the past. Now though, women are increasingly important, with female accountants, bank managers, and land agents coming through and being welcomed in higher numbers. Women are taken seriously, are listened to, and are often taking the lead. This is great progress.”

And she is optimistic about the future of women in farming, believing that transformation in the coming decade will lead to more women taking on significant roles in the sector.

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