‘Women’s influence in agriculture is growing’

Jeanette Dawson, principal and chief executive of Bishop Burton College of Agriculture, near Hull. Picture: Terry Carrott
Jeanette Dawson, principal and chief executive of Bishop Burton College of Agriculture, near Hull. Picture: Terry Carrott
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THERE HAS never been a better time for women to pursue careers in agriculture, according to the principal of agricultural college Bishop Burton, who has seen the proportion of female students enrolling for courses soar.

With an increasing emergence of women in top positions in agricultural businesses, the number of female students has followed this general trend at the college in Beverley too, where the proportion of females has risen from one in 10 students in 2010, to three in five today.

The College hosted its first ‘Women in Farming’ conference last week to explore topics such as sustainability and the environment, and working alongside Asda, prominent women from the farming world attended to give speeches, including Caroline Drummond, chief executive of LEAF, Katharine Haenelt, business development director at food processors ABP Ltd and Minnette Batters, deputy president of the National Farmers’ Union.

Jeanette Dawson, the College’s principal and chief executive, said: “With more and more specialisms now required within agriculture, there has never been a better time for women wanting to pursue a career in the sector.

“Our speakers (at the conference) are testament to that. Not only are they helping to shape the future of the industry through the work they are doing, but they also act as fantastic role models for young women, proving that gender is no longer a barrier to success.”

The Yorkshire Rural Support Network holds its second Women in Farming Conference this week, in conjunction with Barclays, Coles Solicitors and RABI.

The focus will be ‘The public face of farming – pathways to progress’ and will explore how farmers interact and engage with and educate the wider public.

Judith Wood, Barclays’ agriculture manager based in Northallerton will chair the event and introduce speakers Heather Copley, director at Farmer Copley’s Farmshop near Pontefract, Caroline Bell of Acorn Dairy, County Durham, Jane Fowler, a rural development specialist based near Ripon, and farmhouse B&B owner Christine Ryder.

John Pinches, Barclays’ agricultural manager for Yorkshire, said: “Women now play a key part in decision making, business strategy as well as physical work on the farm and the next few years are definitely an exciting time for women in the farming industry.”

The Yorkshire Rural Support Network’s Women in Farming conference takes place at Pavilions of Harrogate this Wednesday, 11am-2.30pm. To register for a place, call Kate Dale on 07912 495604.