On Wednesday 20th July 2016, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., announced the publication of his Department’s Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture Food & the Marine, 2015/2016.
As part of this publication the role of women in Agriculture in Ireland was analysed.
Data was obtained from the DAFM’s client database for 2014 in order to generate the following conclusions. This was combined with data on farmers who received a Single Farm Payment in 2014 and the amount of eligible hectares attributed to each herd number receiving a Single Farm Payment.
The analysis excluded payments made to more than one named farmer, meaning that farms jointly owned by a husband and wife were omitted, as were farm partnerships.
A total of 111,134 farms which received €1.1 billion in Single Farm Payments and owned 3.9 million hectares were accounted for.
The below table shows the age profile of Irish male and female farmers in 2014.
Only 13% of the 111,134 farmers were women and they were slightly older than their male counterparts, with an average age of 62 compared to 56 for men. The majority of both male and female farm owners are in the 45 to 64 age group, however, 43% (5,783) of female sole owners of farms were over 65, with 30% of these over 80 years of age, which would suggest that they received the farm when they were widowed. In comparison only 28% of total male farmers were over 65.
If we break down the amount of eligible hectares by gender, women are the sole owners of just 10% (376,335 ha) of the total land eligible for Single Farm Payment with 40% (151,167 ha) of this land owned by women over 65.
This shows that women received just 8% of the €1.1 billion available in Single Farm Payments in Ireland in 2014. Data from a publication on direct payments, broken down by age and gender, from the Ministry for Agriculture in Spain11 show that 36% of Spanish farmers were women and that they received 27% of total Single Farm Payments.
This publication also shows results for the different regions in Spain and in the Galicia region, which has very similar agriculture characteristics to Ireland in that it is made up of mainly beef suckler and dairy farms, 58% of the farmers are women and they receive 44% of total payments.
2013 data from Eurostat, on the holders of farms across the European Union shows that the total proportion of female farmers in the EU is 30%, though this masks wide variations across the continent. The countries with the highest proportion of female farm holders are based in the Baltic region e.g. 48% of Lithuania’s 170,000 farmers are female; At the other end of the scale, just 6% of sole farm holders in the Netherlands are female. According to the data, the corresponding figures for Ireland is 11.7%.