CRUCIAL improvements are needed to encourage more women into farming.

Fundamental cultural change is needed to bring about gender equality in the agricultural industry, a new report reveals.

The Women in Agriculture Taskforce, commissioned by the Scottish Government, has found that women’s contribution to the industry can be undervalued, downplayed, or simply unseen.

Dumfries House in Cumnock have been encouraging more girls into farming and the outdoors.

Female secondary school pupils from across East Ayrshire were recently inspired by an event at the estate to consider pursuing careers in outdoor and rural environments to help address an apparent gender imbalance.

The Women In Wellies event was organised by East Ayrshire Council’s Learning Outdoors Support Team in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House and the Royal Highland Educational Trust.

Now a final report to see more women consider a career in farming has been laid out.

The Taskforce’s recommendations include; creating an environment that empowers women to take up leadership posts and supports fairness of opportunity, ensuring women have equal access to skills development opportunities to enable them to succeed and their businesses to flourish, challenging existing cultural norms that view men as the heirs to agricultural businesses, and developing an Equality Charter for Scottish agriculture that will be mainstreamed into all Scottish Government agricultural and related policies.

Co-chair and Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “It is neither acceptable nor business savvy for the agricultural industry to be so male dominated.

Male-only structures and boards must be consigned to the past, as Scottish agriculture simply cannot afford to leave women behind.

“There are many women working in Scottish agriculture who have the ability, creativity and determination to drive the industry forward.

Scottish agriculture must include and involve their talents more fully and equitably. Both I and the taskforce recognise that cultural change on this scale requires time and that while some solutions can be quickly implemented, others will be more long term.”