Continued access to a single market, an integrated rural training and education policy and the risks of reduced financial support for farmers are just some of the critical issues facing Welsh farm businesses.
These are some of the key findings set out in a new report which a group of more than 20 women supported through Farming Connect’s Agrisgôp management development programme, recently presented to Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs at a meeting in Cardiff Bay.
The Cabinet Secretary said that she was delighted to meet the women, who all work within agriculture in Wales, and would study their report with interest.
A group women working in agriculture in Wales who were supported through Farming Connect's Agrisgôp management development programme, recently presented their new report, 'A view on Brexit' to Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs at a meeting in Cardiff Bay.
Pictured seated from left to right are:
Einir Davies, Development & Mentoring Manager, Farming Connect
Helen Minnice Smith, Welsh Government Policy Lead for Women in Agriculture,
Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths
Fran Blockley from Llanidloes and Alison Harvey, from Tregaron both members of the women in agriculture group.
Pictured standing from left to right are Women in Agriculture group members;
Mared Jones from Lampeter, Moira Williams from Brecon, Ruth Jones-Sedcole from Ruthin, Nerys Llywelyn Jones from Llanwrda, Eleri Jones from Llanarth, Ros Raymond from Letterston, Mair Jones from Llanarth, Alice Lampard, Agrisgôp Leader from Llandeilo, Wendy Jenkins from Lampeter, Anwen Hughes from Llanarth, Sally Herdman, Agrisgôp Leader from Hay-on-Wye, Selena Burns from Corwen, Pip Nicholas-Davies, Sandra Bellis from Wrexham and Fiona Faire from Ruthin.
“As we prepare for a future outside the EU it is vital we hear the views from as many people as possible to ensure Wales’ future agriculture policies benefit everyone within the industry, not just a select few.
“Women are under-represented in senior positions within agriculture and their voice often goes unnoticed. We must do more to raise the profile of women by improving their skills, confidence and ensuring the relevant support systems are in place. This is how we can best achieve our shared vision of a prosperous, resilient agriculture industry promoting Wales’ present and future well-being,” the Cabinet Secretary said.
Working within three regional groups, these dynamic, focused women have over the past year collaborated to produce their report which will now contribute to the conversation which the Welsh Government is already having with other key stakeholders and which will directly influence the development of an Agricultural Policy for Wales post-Brexit.
With each group facilitated by trained Agrisgôp leaders, who work with like-minded individuals to develop ideas and business propositions through action learning, many of the women first got together at one of Farming Connect’s annual ‘women in agriculture’ forums last year, when the Cabinet Secretary invited delegates to set up their own regional forums and to provide their perspective on key issues facing the industry today.
Agrisgôp leader, trained coach and mediator and farmer Alice Lampard, who leads a group which has met regularly in South West Wales since the beginning of this year, emphasised the importance of empowering and encouraging women to ensure their voices and opinions are heard and valued at this important time.
“Women are recognised as having a hugely influential role in many farm businesses. Largely unsung heroes who are expected to manage farm and work commitments alongside family duties, there has never been a more important time for us to get together and speak out.
“Wales now has an opportunity to lead the way in policy development and thinking in terms of the new British Agricultural Policy and resulting Welsh policy which will sit alongside.
“This new report identifies the considerable challenges which inevitably lie ahead while also setting out recommendations on what the industry can do to capitalise on the opportunities which, we hope, are also within reach,” said Ms. Lampard.
The topics of discussion given most attention were summarised in seven specific headings namely trade; education; financial support; animal health and welfare, cross cutting themes including planning policy, broadband and rural support services; marketing and legislation.
Agrisgôp leader and financial expert Sally Herdman led the South East women’s group.
“The rural economy is particularly fragile with a high dependency on public sector jobs. A hard Brexit that leads to a suppressed rural economy, coupled with further austerity measures puts female workers in a vulnerable position.
“Closer working relationships and improved communications between the industry and Welsh Government will be the catalyst to ensuring that Wales is represented at the UK Government’s negotiating table, and I’m delighted that Agrisgôp has been able to support these groups and ensure that the female perspective is taken into account,” said Ms.Herdman.
To read the full report ‘A View on Brexit’, click here.
‘Save the dates’. Farming Connect will be arranging two ‘Women in Agriculture’ forums this autumn. The first will be held at Portmeirion on Tuesday 19 September and the second will be held at Cardigan Castle on Thursday 21 September. More information will be available shortly on our website.