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Women on farms must own their contribution

Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers' Federation, urges female farmers to value the contribution they make, whether in the office or in the paddocks.

The  parents of my children are farmers. It is true — it says it on their birth certificate.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Searching for the right occupation when filling out the birth register form and my decision to say that, like my husband, I was a farmer.

At the time, we were cropping and grazing 5600ha. I did not think it was a stretch to say that I, Fiona Simson, like Ed Simson, was a farmer. I still don’t and regularly include the classification of farmer on my immigration and census forms.

I have spent a great deal of time out on the farm, however my contribution to the family enterprise has most significantly been in the farm office.

Completing the dreaded, but necessary tax and business compliance (do not get me started on red tape), paying bills, implementing OH&S, preparing budgets, paying people and more recently marketing our grain.

These tasks plus the cultivation of crops and animal husbandry add up to the sum of a functioning, in my case, broadacre farm. It’s the business part of the business.

Most farming men I know would happily attribute the label of “farmer” to their significant other.
Fiona Simson, President, NFF

Despite this, there remains a stigma attached to the vocation of farmer.

That a) it is a role carried out by males and b) it is paddock-based.

It is a stereotype that, frankly, we need to smash.

I believe there are few male farmers who would under-estimate or under value the contribution women make, whether in the office or in the paddocks. Most farming men I know would happily attribute the label of “farmer” to their significant other.

Then where, ladies, is the reluctance to acknowledge our input? I think we are our own worst enemy.

Fiona Simson, President, NFF

Then where, ladies, is the reluctance to acknowledge our input? I think we are our own worst enemy.

We know how much we contribute towards the successful running of our family farming operations and we smugly know things would not be as smooth without us.

...if you are a female and you ­derive the majority of your living from agriculture, the next time you are asked what do you do, I challenge you to reply — “farmer”.
Fiaon Simson, President, NFF

Moreover, here is something else.

There is an increasing amount of farms of which a man is not involved in the management of at all. Imagine!

So, if you are a female and you ­derive the majority of your living from agriculture, the next time you are asked what do you do, I challenge you to reply — “farmer”.

You won’t regret it.

Fiona Simson is the President of the National Farmers’ Federation.

This opinion piece was originally published in The Weekly Times, Women farmers, stand up for what you do.

 

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2 Responses

    Even though my farm is tiny - I only farm for my own family, and I'm a beginner! - I gladly call myself "farmer". Maybe "micro-farmer", like micro-businesses. :-)

    Love the challenge!

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