THE region’s beef and lamb producers are being called on to join a flourishing pasture-fed producer group.
The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association’s Herefordshire-based executive secretary, Russ Carrington, has said that more suppliers are now needed to satisfy demand from retailers for beef and lamb reared solely on pasture and conserved forage.
He said the production system has also been found to be more profitable by farmers.
“With the costs of hard feed relative to grass often four to one, many of our farmers are finding that a pasture-fed system is more profitable even before any premium,” said Russ.
He added: “For those wanting to learn how to achieve this, we have many resources and expertise within the membership. We run a number of events throughout the year where farmers can meet other farmers and see successful pasture-fed production in practice.
“Demand is good in many parts of the country. In some areas regional hubs are being established once we have commitment from enough producers to supply pasture-fed meat.”
The farmer-led organisation has been running for three years and now has more than 100 members across the UK.
The association has established a collective brand and a clear set of standards to define it.
The term ‘pasture-fed’ was chosen over ‘grass-fed’ to distinguish between what is genuinely 100% grass-fed and what is not.
The association says that clear messaging is vital when marketing to consumers who recognise the superior health benefits of meat from animals that have never eaten grain.
Producers can join the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association at any time, but have to comply with the standards before they can become an Approved Supplier. Then they can use the Pasture-Fed mark and trade or sell their livestock under the brand.
Membership is £50 a year and for each animal sold as pasture-fed, levies are taken to support the work of the organisation. Some retailers are now willing to pay premiums resulting in a net gain for farmers.
Producers in the south west could help meet demand at Eversfield Organics in Devon where beef and lamb is marketed direct from the farm. Carcases are also sourced from otgher producers in the south west.
Hamish Bury, head of operations at Eversfield Organics said: “We are very keen to work with more organic pasture-fed suppliers to secure enough supply for our beef and lamb customers. We predominantly want native breeds and are prepared to pay a premium for the right carcass.”
Anna Bury, head of communications at Eversfield Organics added: “Grass-fed is now as important for our customers as organic, and being able to offer both widens our market coverage. Last year the Eversfield business grew by 400 per cent, and the forecast is for these markets to keep on growing.”
Anyone interested in finding out more can visit www.pasturefed.org or email Russ Carrington on firstname.lastname@example.org.