International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women in Agriculture
Friday 8th March marks International Women’s Day, celebrating the successes of women around the globe, as well as highlighting the need to empower females in every aspect of life.
The agriculture sector has some truly inspirational female leaders, carrying the torch for all women looking to join the industry. Below we have highlighted four notable individuals who we’d like to celebrate on International Women’s Day:
Joanna Price is currently the Vice-Chancellor at the Royal Agricultural University, in Cirencester. What is even more impressive is that she is the first ever woman to head-up the world’s oldest agricultural uni. Jo has led the RAU over the last two years, maintaining its excellent standard of education and drawing attention to the need for agriculture to shed its ‘tweedy’ image and embrace innovation. By trade, Jo is a vet; she’s been a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons since 2009: the same time she became the head of Bristol University’s Veterinary School. Her passion for agriculture surpasses her role at RAU, where she is involved in several charities supporting the quality of life for horses. She has championed positive change throughout the academic, veterinary and agricultural fields and continues to be an amazing example to all women in these industries.
No list of influential and inspiring women in agriculture would be complete without the NFU’s current president, Minette Batters. She was hailed in as the NFU first female president in its 110-year history. Minette is also world-class farmer, running a tenanted farm in Wiltshire. She also founded the campaigning initiatives ‘Women in Beef’ and the ‘Great British Beef Week’, drawing much need attention to support beef production in the UK. She has been an NFU member from grassroots through to County Chairman. She served as Wiltshire’s Council delegate and as Regional Board Chairman for the South West. Minette has also been a member of NFU Governance Board and served as NFU Deputy President for four years from 2014 to 2018. She leads the ever-important representation of farmers, giving them a voice in parliament and providing the valuable challenging-voice to policy-makers in Westminster. Minette is an impressive example of how women are essential in leading agriculture on a local, industry and parliamentary level.
Janet joined the Countryside and Community Research Institute in 2002, after working for more than a decade in a government agency and an independent policy think-tank. She was awarded the title of Professor of Rural Policy in 2010 and became Director of the CCRI in 2013. Janet directs and undertakes research related to agriculture, the environment and rural development. Her research expertise centres on European and UK rural development policy and practice, with interest in integrated approaches, environmental sustainability and institutional adaptation. Janet is well-known in policymaking circles in the UK and EU, has skills in facilitation and consensus-building, and is a regular speaker at international conferences. In 2017, Janet was elected an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies of the UK, and the French Academie d’Agriculture. She is driving the rural reform agenda and highlighting the importance of utilising agriculture as a tool to reinvigorate rural communities. She is a guiding-light in safeguarding the countryside and local communities.
Charlotte Smith was re-elected President of National Federations of Young Farmers’ Clubs in 2018 for a second year during the Annual General Meeting at NFYFC’s Annual Convention in Blackpool. She has been a strong voice for representing the needs of young farmers throughout the UK, especially during a time of great transition. Charlotte is also a freelance journalist who presents BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme and is a regular presenter on BBC1’s Countryfile. After working in local radio, regional TV and as a news journalist for BBC TV and radio, a conversation in a lift led her into rural affairs. 20 years later she considers that she has the best job in the BBC. Her broadcasting nous paired with her passion for agriculture means that she is one of the most influential voices in the sector. Her example provides an inspiration for young women in farming everywhere.
We hope that everybody enjoys an excellent International Women’s Day and wholeheartedly support the call to achieve greater representation of women amongst the agriculture industry, across all levels of seniority.
By Chris Platt
Senior Programme Manager
Agriculture Conference 2019