The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is the largest democratic voluntary organisation representing over 11,500 farming families in Northern Ireland. Its central objective is to promote their interests both at home and abroad through professional lobbying. This week, the Union are raising awareness throughout Farm Safety Week 2020 (20th- 24th July 2020) organised by the Farm Safety Foundation.
“2020 has already presented many challenges for farming families. COVID-19 has re-emphasised the importance of looking after our physical and mental well-being, not just during Farm Safety Week, but every day of our lives”, says the Ulster Farmers’ Union Rural Affairs Chair, Jennifer Hawkes. Continuing that “Farming families with young children have been under extra pressure since schools closed due to the virus. Now during the summer holidays and the added pressure of COVID-19 restrictions, I would urge our women and farming families to be mindful of the dangers that living and working on a farm can present. With curious minds and adventurous spirits, children love to get out on the farm to meet the animals and explore but it can be very difficult to supervise children and work on the farm at the same time".
The Ulster Farmers’ Union cannot stress enough how important it is for farmers and their families to STOP & THINK about what they’re doing on-farm when working with slurry, unpredictable livestock and high-powered technology, as it only takes a spilt second for a life changing injury or fatality to happen. For more information on Farm Safety Week you can visit the Yellow Wellies website here.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union began their partnership with Women in Business NI during the summer of 2019 and it has proved to be hugely beneficial to the female membership. Northern Ireland has a unique family farm structure which has women at its core. Wives, mothers, sisters and daughters, play a key role in the farm business which can often go unnoticed. Their passion, commitment and hard work has been vital to the success of the agriculture industry. Jennifer Hawkes, chair of the UFU's rural affairs committee, engages regularly in WIB activities, stating that “With farming seen historically as predominately male-led, the UFU want to support women develop their skills, build confidence and progress into leadership roles whether in the farm business, their own business or career. By encouraging female members to get involved in WIB activities, not only will individuals’ benefit through their professional growth, but the farming industry and economy will too.”
The UFU encourage their members to avail of WIB’s opportunities for their personal and professional development. “We want to see more women involved within the structure of the UFU, but do recognise there are barriers such as training, lack of opportunity, access to childcare and employment responsibilities off-farm. There's a lot of hidden work that women do on farms to keep the farm business going which will not change, however women should take time to invest in themselves and build their skills and experiences, this is where WIB can help,” said Mrs Hawkes.
For further information on the work of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, please click here.