Breaking the ‘Grass’ Ceiling: Committee launches survey on the barriers faced by women in the agriculture sector

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 03 December 2021

Reference: AERA 02/21/22

The Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee has today launched a new survey, as part of a Committee review into the barriers faced by women in the local agriculture sector.

The Committee is keen to hear the views of local women involved in farm management and those who may be considering farming as a career option, but are perhaps deterred from entering what is currently perceived as a male dominated industry. 

Speaking after today’s launch, the Committee Chairperson, Declan McAleer MLA said: “For centuries, farming has often been seen as a man’s role, with cultural barriers preventing women from owning farms, particularly in relation to inheriting land and succession planning. Throughout the years, however, women have continued to play a vital, if under-recognised, role in carrying out practical farming activities as well as often being at the forefront of farm management.

“Opinions on the role of women in farming may be slowly changing, but there can be little doubt that they still face many barriers and challenges, particularly in terms of accessing educational, training and funding opportunities.”

Mr McAleer continued: “Reports show that government initiatives in other jurisdictions, to encourage women in this sector, have resulted in an increase in woman farmers. We want to benchmark those initiatives and approaches, as well as the experiences of the small number of woman farmers here, to better understand current support mechanisms and to help shape future initiatives at a local level.”

Mr McAleer concluded: “We recently visited the Pollock farm in Castlederg and were impressed by the innovations and technology introduced by Jessica, a young woman who runs the farm alongside her father. Unfortunately, while inspiring, Jessica is still the exception to the rule. We hope that our survey and overall review will highlight the needs of young women in farming and help lead to the development of new policy to support and inspire young women here to break the ‘grass’ ceiling.”  

As part of the overall review, the Committee is encouraging women currently working in farming and those interested in pursuing a career in the industry to complete the survey and provide their views. The survey can be accessed via and will be open until Friday 14 January 2022. 



Committee Membership:

Mr Declan McAleer MLA (Chairperson)

Mr Philip McGuigan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)

Ms Clare Bailey MLA

Mrs Rosemary Barton MLA

Mr John Blair MLA

Mr Thomas Buchanan MLA

Mr Harry Harvey MLA

Mr William Irwin MLA

Mr Patsy McGlone MLA


For media enquiries, please contact:

Sinead Murphy

Deputy Communications Officer

Northern Ireland Assembly   

Tel: 029 90 52 5938 Mob: 07899 864368