GLOBAL – Industry figureheads rallied progressive producers yesterday at the inaugural Women in Dairy conference.
Their message was clear – farming needs women and all their positive traits.
Launched last year, Women in Dairy runs a remit to connect women, share knowledge and inspire in a traditionally male dominated sector.
Addressing the conference, Caroline Drummond, chief executive of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), said it was vital that the assets of female farmers be nurtured.
“Women are inherently community building people with strong business ethics and a sense of fairness,” she claimed.
“People would say women are less likely to jump to immediate conclusions.”
These are key qualities in small business environments, which don’t enjoy immediate success, typically taking seven to ten years to be realised, she added.
A Global Trend
Networking between female dairy professionals is already well established in New Zealand and Australia.
Here, the Dairy Women's Network and Women in Dairy Australia, work along similar aims - to empower women in dairying through knowledge transfer, inspiration and networking.
In the US, Annie's Project works to support women in agriculture, although the University of Georgia (UGA) is grasping the opportunity to reach out and educate a demographic clearly hungry for information.
The University is holding a training course for women interested in the broad field of agriculture, where for $30 delegates can learn about fencing, tractors, farm implements, trucks and trailers, cattle handling and animal health.
This is according to Morgan County extension agent Lucy Ray, who told TheDairySite that classes are full and requests for more events are state-wide.
"As far as I know this is the first program of its kind in Georgia," said Lucy. "I believe that North Carolina Extension put on a similar type course in 2014."
"We came up with an agenda for this course and started putting our plan in motion," added Lucy. "We are primarily focusing on livestock production and have helped promote through the Georgia Cattlewomen’s Association as well."
We Badly Need You
The merits of diversity were spelled out by Gwyn Jones, Dairy Board chairman of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB Dairy), who welcomed the different qualities and approach of women in dairy farming.
Addressing the growing membership of Women in Dairy, he said: "We badly need you - and more of you."
He said he remained “optimistic and bullish” about the dairy industry, although noted there were storms to weather.
He warned that cash flow was the most obvious problem at this stage, adding that public procurement needed to be explored to alleviate the supply and demand pressure.
The dairy crisis is also being felt in the genetics sector, where Saskia Korink, chief operating officer at ABS global, is striving to drive the business into a bright future.
She offered a template for her own successes in progressing to lead a multinational company.
“I remain a woman,” she stressed. “I don’t try and adopt masculine traits.
“I use female intuition as an instrument in recruiting - I’ve been right many times already.”
Based in the US, Mrs Korink oversees a 40,000 person customer base across 70 countries delivering 17 million semen straws annually.
“It is important to be analytic when you are managing others. The ability to go into topics deeper on occasion is important.
“This ensures people aren’t concluding based on very high level information.”
She added that empathy and multi-tasking were other strong features that have helped her to where she is today.
Top image via Shutterstock