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Young Farmer Focus: Amy Wilkinson - 'I hope to see a bigger female workforce and encourage employers to give us girls a chance'

Amy Wilkinson, 24, farms with her dad in Halsall, Lancashire. She rears 550 beef cattle through to finishing and farms 243 hectares (600 acres) of arable land.

Gender

 

When lockdown was in full swing, I found myself often accompanied by my furloughed and very bored sister.

 

During one of these days, while sat on the passenger seat of my tractor heading through the middle of a town, she said: "People look at you like you have three heads."

 

I answered simply they do that for two reason, it is a big tractor and trailer but they are more shocked that there is a girl behind the steering wheel.

 

But it is not just the general public that seem shocked by this.

 

I have turned up to many contracting jobs to ’are you sure you know how to drive that’ and ’not often you see a girl’ which usually ends ’you know what you are doing for a girl, don’t you’.

 

I even had one wagon driver pull into the yard, come up to me while I was sweeping grain and tell me ’that’s what I like to see, a woman with a brush’.

 

To which I politely told him where I would shove my brush if he made another comment like that.

 

My first bit of advice to any girl wanting to enter this industry is to learn to give as good as you get.


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Farm life

 

When I first knew I wanted to work on the farm at home, even my Dad was wary as he had never had a girl work for him before and always employed young lads.

 

So I was given the jobs that by the agricultural definition were ’for women’, like feeding calves, which I still do to this day but because I love it.

 

But I worked my way up into the ’bigger’ jobs which involve more driving.

 

This is where my second piece of advice would come in.

 

Take your time and enjoy it.

 

Confidence

 

At first I was slower than the men as I was more cautious but as my confidence grew, I became just as quick as them but without breaking anything.

 

This brings me to the point I am at today, where I feel pretty comfortable driving anything and we now employ another girl.

 

So as harvest comes around again this year, I hope to see a bigger female workforce and I encourage employers to give us girls a chance.

 

You might actually find you prefer us.

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