Rounding off the morning at LILIS was our final speaker session. This consisted of a Q&A panel discussion between Russ Carrington of the PFLA (Pasture Fed Livestock Association), David Marshall from Farm Stock Scotland (Ltd.) and Nick Cole from Meadow Quality.
David Marshall is responsible for the day to day running and operation of Farm Stock, including liaising with outlets and the negotiation of prices for all types of stock.
Nick Cole works for Meadow Quality, a farmer owned livestock trading group that has field specialists working close with dairy, beef, sheep and pig farmers across the UK.
You can read more about Russ and his expertise in our post about his talk here.
The Q&A panel discussed the issues facing farmers in Cumbria when it came to the choice to farm organically, as Nick Cole mentioned the fact that Meadow Quality try and trade livestock as locally as possible. The fact that there is no slaughtering capacity in the county, and that the nearest Organic market is in Dumfries, almost 70 miles away, makes it harder that it could (should?) be for organic farmers in Cumbria. The panel were surprised to hear this, due to the region’s tourist economy, which often brings in a market for locally produced and sourced foods.
The takeaway message from the Q&A session was that it would be good to see the farmer taking control back of his/her own business, and an important part of that is working out how to harness the land and make the most of what he/she has.
There was also a discussion about marketing, and how farmers should have the opportunity to market themselves, as they can offer more knowledge and expertise to consumers than any large supermarket chains, there just needs to be a way to help them learn how to do so.