This Farming Life star and NIGTA chief executive to lead UFU WIA conference

The Ulster Farmers’ Union will host its third Women in Agriculture conference on 26 October at the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown.

The keynote speakers are Gill Gallagher, Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) chief executive, and Aimee Budge, who starred in BBC’s This Farming Life.

Following on from the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee survey, Breaking the ‘Grass’ Ceiling, which was released in March of this year, the theme for the event is ‘breaking ground’.

UFU rural affairs chair, Jennifer Hawkes, commented: “After conducting an online Women in Agriculture conference last year due to the pandemic, we’re really looking forward to hosting a physical event this October at the Glenavon Hotel.

Gill Gallagher, Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association chief executive, and UFU rural affairs chair Jennifer Hawkes, pictured at the launch of the UFU’s Women in Agriculture conference 2022.

“The AERA Committee’s survey, breaking the ‘grass’ ceiling, was a major milestone for women in agriculture in Northern Ireland, publicly exposing the challenges they have endured for many years in the industry.

“Now, through the conference, we aim to push forward with progress by bringing women in agriculture together to hear from leading figures in the industry and to network.

“From learning about how others do things on farm and developed their agri-food career, to more personal aspects such as balancing the workload with family commitments, it can be hugely beneficial to speak to others in a similar situation and to know that you are not alone.

“Sharing experiences is key to creating solutions and necessary support for women in agriculture having huge benefits for the Northern Ireland agri-food industry as a whole.”

Jennifer continued: “The conference is also extremely important to show our younger generations how important farming and food production is, and about the vast career opportunities that exist in agriculture regardless of your background. Gill Gallagher and Aimee Budge are brilliant examples, showcasing what can be achieved through hard work, dedication and a passion for all things farming.

“I encourage all men who are able, to attend the event.

“They have an important role to play in the Women in Agriculture movement because while things are changing with more women leading farm businesses, the biggest percentage of farmers is still older males.

“Therefore, encouraging a daughter’s interest in farming, supporting their wife on farm or helping to ensure we have an agri-food industry that credits on merit alone is hugely critical.

“Some efforts may seem smaller than others, but they all make a world of difference.”

Commenting on the event, NIGTA CEO Gill Gallagher said: “This is an excellent initiative by UFU to connect and empower women in an inspiring and supportive forum.

“Fantastic career opportunities are available within the agri-food sector at all levels and are open to everyone.

“Raising awareness of these opportunities is important as well as providing women with the ability to build a professional network of contacts to help support and nurture their ambitions.”

Places are limited, tickets are priced at £20 and booking is encouraged as soon as possible. You can do so using the following link www.ufuni.org/events