Highlighting Women’s Pivotal Role in The Agri Sector

Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank shines a spotlight on females in farming and finance on International Women’s Day.

Women have always been integral to the farming story. Today, the result of their labour flourishes in a greater presence and representation across the agricultural sector at all levels. This 8th March, on International Women’s Day, Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank (now owned by Virgin Money) highlights the important role women play within the farming industry, and in the wider support sector that it depends on.

Historically, farming has been a whole family enterprise, with both men and women contributing to the hard graft on the farm and in the field. However, the way in which the sector is understood and perceived has often underplayed the role of females in farming family businesses. Here, Davinia Horner a Commercial Business – Agribusiness at Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank shared her thoughts on women in the sector and their commitment from the ground-up.

Davinia, has in-depth knowledge of the agricultural industry, and supports farmers by delivering sound financial advice and business guidance. She said: “People traditionally think of men as being the farmers, but in many farming businesses women have been the glue that holds everything together.

“The women I see on a daily basis have multiple roles – they are the financial administrators, responsible for the running of the household and the health and safety of employees and family, as well as helping on the farm. They are juggling many balls and solving many problems, and in short,  they are integral to the running of the business. On dairy farms they could be looking after the young stock, or on sheep farms, helping with the lambing – in both, playing a key role in raising the next generation of livestock that the farm depends on.

“Thankfully there certainly seems to be less of a masculine image now across the farming industry. At auction marts for instance, there will usually be a 50:50 split of genders presenting their cattle and sheep in the sale ring. One thing we are also finding now is that many farmers are proactively looking for female staff, as some believe they are more empathetic with the livestock, or more careful from a health and safety point of view when handling machinery.

“We do have a growing number of women leading the direction of the Agri-industry. Today, we also see female farmers taking the lead on financial management and strategic planning. We are also finding more and more farmer’s daughters returning home to take over the reins of the running of the family farm. They are often trained professionals, brimming with ideas on how to enhance the future of the business. They are the ones looking at the bigger picture, and thinking about ways to develop alternative income streams.

“In my experience as a Relationship Manager, diversification schemes on the farm are often authored of women and are driven by them too. Often I’ve found that from holiday cottages to wedding venues, or farm shops to renewables, women can put innovative diversification plans in motion.”

The same is also true now of the Agri world’s support networks. Davinia added: “The business advice side of farming was also considered male territory in the past. Now though, women are increasingly important, with female accountants, bank managers, and land agents coming through and being welcomed in higher numbers. Women are taken seriously, are listened to, and are often taking the lead. This is great progress.”

Forward thinking, but with deep roots, the Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank understands the unique stories and needs of female-headed farming businesses. On International Women’s Day 2021, the Bank is celebrating the heritage of women who farm across the UK, as well as the professional Agri-women who support with their contributions and business-foresight.

Davinia is full of optimism on the future of women in farming. The coming decade of transformation for agriculture will undoubtedly lead to more and more female faces taking on significant roles in the sector. Davinia concludes: “The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. In these changing times, it’s important to challenge, and to keep making progress, as this will help our farming businesses remain fit for the next generation.”

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank will rebrand to Virgin Money for business customers in mid-March 2021.

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