05 Mar International Women’s Day … in Farming
International Women’s Day … in Farming
Spotlighting two young women in farming on International Women’s Day
3 March 2021
This International Women’s Day, we want to spotlight two young women who are paving the way for women in farming and proving that it’s no longer a man’s world.
For many, the farming sector still conjures up a picture of heavy machinery and livestock, but two young women are sweeping away with traditional back-office roles and taking leading positions at the heart of the grain sector – and proving a woman’s place is firmly at the forefront of modern farming while forging a solid friendship along the way.
Eveey Hunter from Shenley in Hertfordshire grew up on her family’s farm which specialises in arable and the farming of combination crops. She works in the office managing all crop activities and diversification, and is actively hands-on, helps her brother and dad during harvest.
Natural way of life
“I know it seems strange but farming is all I’ve ever known”, says Eveey, 26, whose love for her job is so strong that she has never taken a holiday in July or August.
“I’ve always loved being in a farm setting and feel extremely privileged to play a part in the supply of a life-sustaining commodity. It’s a perfectly natural way of life to me and I can’t imagine working anywhere else. Arable farming is in my blood; it’s the future and where I’m meant to be”.
But Eveey’s devotion has not always been smooth-sailing. When her father learned she wanted to follow in the family footsteps, he tried his utmost to dissuade her. “Dad wasn’t sure if it was the right career path for me and wanted to be sure I wasn’t making a mistake, but this made me even more determined to join the business as I couldn’t stand by watching him take the pressure of running everything almost single-handed.”
Looking after clients
“There’s no way Dad could have deterred me as I Iove every day. And I have tons of energy and ideas to streamline the office and look after our clients.”
Eveey facilitates the sale of grain to our site in Lincolnshire and agrees that our team is great to do business with. “When you work with great clients it’s easy to build a solid relationship and looking after them comes naturally”, she explains.
And it was Eveey’s client-service ethos that led to her to meet like-minded counterpart in the form of 22 year-old Sarah Howseman who works with us here at Cefetra around her degree.
“I’m so lucky that Sarah is my opposite number at Cefetra. We share so much in common, including a mutual passion for grain growing – the likelihood of this is probably very low!”, she says. “Whilst I love my family, working with men all the time can get a bit intense and nothing beats a girly laugh and work banter with another female in a male-dominated industry.”
Sarah, who is based in Lincolnshire and deals directly with our grain-growing customers, agrees. “I am passionate about working with Cefetra’s clients and delivering faultless service by personally managing every aspect of their order journey,” she says.
Working with Cefetra combines nicely with her course ‘Agriculture with Crop Management’ which covers plant breeding, crop protection and fresh produce.
Dedication to grain
“Being a farm manager is in the family – both my granddads and dad managed farms and like Eveey, I can’t imagine doing anything else and want to be part of the future of sustainable farming.”
“Sarah and I just get each other”‘ says Eveey. The two women regularly turn to each other for support and camaraderie as well as discussing the intricacies of grain farming. And with Sarah’s order management system, Eveey knows she can rely on Sarah to ensure her family’s grain supplies reach a worldwide audience.
“It’s a great relationship. We’ve become friends, learn from each other and share the same work ethos and both care passionately about the of the industry,” Sarah says. She is still studying at Harper Adams University but works at Cefetra during holidays. “It’s like going forward together in a partnership which not only complements our own mental well being, but enhances the relationship between our respective businesses”.
Both women agree there is so much more opportunity in farming than driving a tractor or milking cows in an industry that offers a wealth of opportunities in areas such as tech and science, in which women already excel.
Simon Wilcox, Manager, UK Farm Grain Origination at Cefetra Limited, says: “Eveey and Sarah are great ambassadors for young women in farming and they also demonstrate the importance of great team work – and certainly how much it works for Cefetra. For us as an organisation, we welcome an increasing number of women in farming, they add another dimension to the agri world, are great communicators and can do everything us men can do, and more.”
Terry Pickthall, Agriculture Placement Manager at Harper Adams University believes, however, that the industry still faces a chronic shortage of talented staff to take it forward in future years. Whilst this brings challenges there are also some fantastic opportunities.
“Historically our industry has struggled to recruit female staff into more farm-based roles, but this demand is breaking down the barriers. As more female farm workers and managers blaze a trail and succeed, it further drives change and inspires others to follow. The proportion of female students studying agriculture has increased significantly in the last five years and so has the proportion of female students undertaking their placement year in a great variety of farming businesses”.
As International Women’s Day approaches Eveey believes this is the ideal time to encourage women to consider farming as a serious career option. “Brexit has given us more opportunities to develop and support UK and local farming and agriculture communities, and what we sell is unique. We’ve moved forward a lot and farming offers a highly rewarding future, mentorship and lifelong inspirational friendships for women worldwide. I wouldn’t be without Sarah for all the grain in the world”.