Lakeland Dairies launches campaign to address membership gender imbalance

‘Having as many voices as possible from diverse backgrounds within our co-operative helps continually to foster progressive ideas and strategies’

Irish co-op Lakeland Diaries has launched a campaign to increase its number of women shareholders.

Lakeland says that only 12% of herd owners in the country are women, adding that this “does not reflect the huge, often unseen, work carried out in farm businesses by women.”

To help tackle the issue it has written to all shareholders encouraging joint shareholding among family members.

Co-op chair Niall Matthews said: “This is one of the most transformative times in the history of the co-operative movement. We are seeing considerable change coming to farming and with change comes opportunity. I’m a firm believer that. 

“Becoming involved in your local co-op is hugely rewarding. It is your co-op, it is your business and, in many instances, it is your livelihood. I believe it’s important to have a say in the running of your co-op and this is done by becoming a shareholder and getting involved in the democratic processes that decide the overall direction of the business. 

“Lakeland Dairies is a progressive, modern and sustainable co-operative, producing food to the highest standards, while supporting the wellbeing of our farm families and rural communities. We want to sustain that in every way possible for the future and having greater diversity throughout our shareholder base is a key part of that process. 

“We’re seeing strong interest in this initiative at the Virginia Show and we are now rolling out this campaign across our membership base over the coming weeks and months. We have information for those who want to learn more about the process including how to have shares in joint names and how to have the milk account in joint names.”

Figures published by Ireland’s Central Statistics Office show that there were just over 18,000 female farm holders (or 13.4%) in 2020. Between 2010 and 2020, there was a 1% increase in female farm holders – up from 12.4% or 17,345.