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First Women in Agriculture Conference strikes the right balance

13 March 2024

More than 180 women working in agriculture across Scotland gathered at Murrayfield on 28th February to discuss ‘finding the balance’ at the first Women in Agriculture Conference.

Women often have to juggle different responsibilities on the farm or croft as well as in family life outside of the business. The event, hosted by the Farm Advisory Service, provided a supportive environment to discuss the issues that can arise for women and how to find the balance between these different demands.

Guest speakers included Jim Fairlie, Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity; Nikki Yoxall, from Pasture for Life; and Sarah Millar, Chief Executive of QMS, with attendees given the opportunity to ask questions.

Discussions on the day centred on wellbeing, succession, diversification, farm management, finance, policy reform and biodiversity. Key takeaway messages included the importance of including women in the future of agriculture, reflecting on the quality of life you want and taking time to look after your own needs.

Attendees also had the opportunity to socialise with other women working in agriculture and make new connections with various organisations who were present.

Mary-Jane Lawrie, event organiser, said:

“I’m delighted that our first FAS Women in Agriculture conference was a sold-out event, bringing together lots of like-minded women to connect and help them to utilise their skills and be part of the future of agriculture.

We are all trying to find the balance in our day-to-day lives and in our businesses - from balancing making space for biodiversity versus profitability, to balancing family members when talking about succession and finding the right diversification options to suit your business and lifestyle.”

Agriculture Minister Jim Fairlie said:

“I was delighted to attend the first Women in Agriculture conference. It gave me an opportunity to hear directly from women involved across the industry and learn about their personal experiences within the sector.

As the new Minister for Agriculture, I want to reaffirm both the Scottish Government’s and my own personal commitment to gender equality within agriculture.

Women are the backbone of our rural economy and I will continue to do my utmost to support them across the sector.”

Jim Fairlie MSP and Mary-Jane Lawrie

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