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Young Farmer Focus: Sophie Bell - 'Women in ag don't get enough recognition'

Sophie Bell, 20, lives on a small farm, raising dairy calves for beef.

 

She is studying agriculture with animal science at Harper Adams University and is spending the summer on placement back home.

Social media: I started an Instagram page a few years ago, posting some pictures I took on my phone when out on-farm.

 

Little did I know it would become so popular. The page grew organically over time and today I have about 8,000 people following my footsteps.

 

Sadly, since I am at university for most of this year, I have not been able to post too much, but there has been plenty to post during summer when I am at home on-farm.

 

It has given me a lot of opportunities and I would not be where I am without the network that has blossomed.

 

I have been given the opportunity to work with clothing brands, blog for agricultural news companies and help a company build a project that will be on the market shortly, as well as inspiring other women to know that farming is not just for men.

 

I do not think there is enough recognition of women’s involvement in agriculture, and I get a lot of enquiries from girls who are looking towards going into an agricultural degree, who are finding it quite daunting.

 

Since I came from a very small farm with little experience compared to a lot of others, it inspires them to follow their passion for agriculture.


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Future: With agriculture there are so many different routes you can go down.

 

I am unsure what career I will go into after I graduate, but I will probably get involved in a range of different careers and perhaps start a business of my own.

 

After graduating I am going to return home to Ireland and despite being only a second-year student, so many opportunities have already risen.

 

I would love to get involved in an ancillary part of agriculture, but have a farm to come home to at the same time, as my heart belongs in my wellies.

 

Farm: I come from a small beef farm and, on starting my degree, we had six suckler cows.

 

When I was in school, I decided I would start to buy-in my own dairy calves and raise them to slaughter.

 

As a result of seeing the success and benefits of these calves, my dad decided to phase out our suckler cows and switch to drystock instead.

 

The beef industry in Ireland is going through some difficult times now, so it is hard to know what the future holds for the farm.

 

I am, however, continuing to buy-in more dairy calves and we are currently rearing a mixture of British Blue cross Holsteins and Black Whiteheads.

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