9 April 2015 – women, sustainability, farming and market trading

Women are the backbone of farming and market trading in the developing world – see for example, http://www.farmingfirst.org/portal/gender/ and this blog (7 April) – but I was interested to see that in 2012, there were reports of a rapid rise in women farmers in the UK – according to the BBC, ‘figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that there are 23,000 female farmers in the UK. There are 119,000 men, but nine or 10 years ago there were virtually no women farmers’.

The situation appears to be different in the US where the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition reports that USDA Census data for 2012 shows a 6% decrease in women farmers over the previous 5 years. However, women farmers seem to be raising their profile and getting organised. A couple of examples I have found that link this to the US sustainable food movement are: http://grist.org/people/meet-the-women-who-grow-your-food/ and http://www.farmerjane.org/book-women.html

I am wondering what research there is post 2012 on the number of women in farming and market trading in the UK and Europe more widely – for example, are more women running the 97% of European farms operating as family farms? And how does this impact on fresh food market trading and on sustainability?