Our second speaker of the day at LILIS was Russ Carrington, Former Director, Executive Secretary and Recording Secretary of the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA).
Russ grew up on his family’s farm in Herefordshire, but left to study Civil Engineering at Cardiff University and follow a different career path. However, after a few years of office life and a stint of international travel he decided to return to full-time farming. He brought with him a string of off-farm skills and a passion for embracing the challenges of food production in the 21st century. Since then, he helped to manage Caplor Farm, a 326ha (800 acre) mixed farm in Herefordshire for nearly two years, before taking the opportunity to become executive secretary for the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.
The idea for the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association arose in 2009, when a small group of British farmers decided to join together to extol the wide-ranging benefits of producing meat from animals fed exclusively on pasture. Since then, the Association has developed, on a very limited budget, into an active, credible organisation that successfully champions the virtues of grass-based farming and meat production.
Run as a Community Interest Company (CIC) since 2011, the membership includes farmers, butchers, retailers and consumers – all with a passion to increase the supply and market for pastured meat.
Russ’s talk at LILIS gave the delegates a real insight into the PFLA and how the grass-fed market is growing in the UK.
One of the main reasons consumers are looking for the ‘pasture fed’ certification mark is the increasing interest in both the welfare and the health benefits of meat. The PFLA currently have around 60 certified farmers who, between them, have 8,000 cattle, 14,000 sheep, and 14-15,ooo hectares. There are 30 retail outlets across the country selling the PFLA certified meat, from small shops and meat boxes, to mostly online shops and butchers.
One of the audiences that is keenly pursuing grass fed meat is those who follow a caveman/paleo diet, and Russ commented that the PFLA would be interested in following this trend to see how it moves forward. They’re not always most affluent customers, and they’re happier to opt for cheaper cuts; perhaps the opposite to many of those who shop organically.