Fit For Farming (Women) foreword

Foreword by NFU president Minette Batters to the edition of Fit For Farming for women farmers.

My route into farming is probably best described as challenging.

Like many farming families we struggled to talk about succession planning and my father was far from convinced that farming was suited to women. But in the end, my family came round to the idea and I managed to convince my landlords that I could take on the farm.

Back then it still took people a while to get used to the idea of a woman farmer. Often people would deliver things to my farm and they would say: ‘Can I speak to the farmer?’. I would then say, ‘I’m the farmer.’ They would then say, ‘Well, can I speak to the boss?’ and I would reply ‘I’m the boss’.

When it comes to gender, the landscape of British farming is changing. Women make up the majority of students on many agricultural courses. More and more women are coming into the industry and making a success of it. They play a vital role in British agriculture. The NFU is working hard to ensure women have an equal opportunity to engage with the Union when they wish to. I am proud to be President of a Union that is overseeing such a long-overdue paradigm shift.

Women farmers, like their male counterparts, are not immune to the everyday challenges of farming: fluctuating market prices, animal disease, the weather, lack of fodder and rural crime to name but a few. Combine these stressors with the isolation and the pressure to make the business a success, it is not surprising that farmers, regardless of gender, are susceptible to poor mental and physical health. But women also have to deal with a variety of unique health issues and conditions, many of which can affect their duties on the farm.

It is vital that women farmers have access to information that will help them keep well and age healthily. This booklet does just that. Much like the original version of this booklet, specifically aimed at men, it is full of useful advice and guidance about how to look after your mental and physical wellbeing. This booklet also includes vital content about women’s health including pregnancy, gynaecological health and cancer.

I am very grateful to the Farming Community Network and the Men’s Health Forum for coming together to create this booklet. It has never been more important for members of the farming community to think about their own wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of their farm business. We need a vibrant, strong and energetic farming community to meet the future challenges of the industry and to continue feeding a growing world population. It is essential that we are all “fit to farm”.

Minette Batters - Beef, sheep and arable farmer in Wiltshire, Co-founder of Ladies In Beef and President of the National Farmers Union.


The Men's Health Forum is a member of the NHS England Information Standard and this new manual is fully compliant. This means it is fully-referenced, has been peer-reviewed by our team of medics led by Dr John Chisholm, the Men's Health Forum's chair of trustees, and also road-tested with farmers. You can have confidence that this is a reliable source of quality evidence-based health information.

 

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Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

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