Becoming Pasture for Life certified

Become Certified Pasture for Life

The standards that define Pasture for Life farming are firmly rooted in the practical experience of our farmers.

They provide a clear definition of what is meant by the term Pasture for Life. They are the foundation underpinning the Certification Mark, which helps consumers identify meat and dairy produced this way.

We always try to strike a practical balance. We do not want to burden farmers more than necessary with inspections, particularly when they are already conforming to high standards of practice.

However, it is essential to provide clarity and transparency, so customers who buy Pasture Meat and Dairy can have full confidence in what it represents.

Raising livestock on a pasture-based system will not be suitable for every farm or set of circumstances. However, for those farmers that can, Pasture for Life provides an important distinction over food produced by more intensive methods. As such it may attract a price premium when sold.

The Right Foundations

We know from our members that Pasture for Life farming is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, if the foundations are right.

Building on widespread concern for the environment and for the welfare of animals, the three key elements are:

  • Understanding what the grass is capable of producing and improving it where necessary
  • Matching the breed of animals to the available grassland
  • Ensuring the end-product meets the requirements of the available markets

How do I apply to become a Certified Farm, Butcher or Dairy?

The application process for farmers, butchers and dairies is looked after by the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, as part of its service to members. It is an online process.

Step 1:

After reading through the Certification Standards and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), click the ‘Certification Application’ button at the bottom of this page to register an interest in becoming certified.

One of our team will be in contact to discuss any remaining questions, and then make the application process available to you through your online account.

Step 2:

Farmers, butchers and dairies are then invited to create an online business profile to describe their farm or business, which includes their own brief web page and which will be hosted on www.pastureforlife.org.

Our staff will provide all the necessary support to create this virtual ‘shop front’. This will enable customers to find out more about your business, either when searching for suppliers in their area or when using the unique ‘TRACKS’ system of product traceability

Step 3:

An online ‘Self-Assessment’ form is completed. This is a checklist to ensure that all the important points within the Certification Standards are fully understood and are consistent with the methods being used. This is checked by our Certification Team, which is available to provide support and discuss any issues that might arise.

Step 4:

Once the Certification Team is happy that the Certification Standards can be met comfortably, the application can then be completed. At this stage, provisional certification can be granted.

Certification and inspection

Each certified Pasture for Life business is inspected annually. Where possible, this is coordinated with any other inspections such as Organic Certification or Farm Assurance.

The Inspection process is an independent one, administered for the Pasture Fed Livestock Association by Organic Farmers and Growers (OF&G) in conjunction with Acoura, who conduct the inspections.

Once the application stage has been completed, it is handed over to OF&G. They will liaise with the certified Pasture for Life businesses, (whether they are organic or not), and will make the arrangements for any inspections.

They will also, in conjunction with the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, deal with any issues that arise.

What does it cost to become certified Pasture for Life?

We offer a combined package, which includes all the benefits of PFLA membership and also covers the certification application and renewal fees. This option costs £100 per year and we can update any existing membership arrangements as part of the application process.

Certification and inspection
The PFLA will provide support and guidance to help make the application process as simple as possible for members. The certification fee, which is included within the price, covers the work of the certification team to ensure the integrity of the Pasture for Life Certification Mark.

The independent inspection service is provided by Acoura and administered by Organic Farmers and Growers. This represents a cost of up to £250 for a standalone inspection, although wherever possible, efforts are made to combine Pasture for Life audits with other farm assurance inspections, such as Organic or Red Tractor. This can significantly reduce both the cost and time incurred. For more information please contact us.

Therefore, businesses interested in becoming certified Pasture for Life should plan for a total cost, which includes membership, certification and inspection of £350 per year.

Direct sales
Farms that also have a farm shop, box scheme or other ways of selling directly to customers, are asked to register the farm and processing activities as separate businesses.

However, provided the produce sold only comes from their own farm, there will only be one set of fees for the two parts of the business.

Small farms and processors
The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association actively supports small farms and processors. Wherever possible we try to ensure that fees are fair and proportional to the size of business.

Sales levy
The continuing development of the market for certified Pasture for Life produce is supported through a sales levy. This is applied at the point in the food chain where the Certification Mark is applied to the finished product.

Typically, this will be paid by a Certified Butcher for meat, or a Certified Dairy for milk or dairy produce. Sales levies are not applied to the sale of live animals.

The Pasture for Life levies are £5 for a beef animal and 50 pence for a lamb. These fees are payable to the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.

Developing Markets

In some parts of the country, recognised markets for Pasture for Life produce are still developing. Nevertheless, there is still a very important role for those producers that are conforming to Pasture for Life production Standards in demonstrating to markets the potential supply base that exists in the area.

For such producers, we are able to process applications to a “Pending” stage, which means that all of the application and inspection costs are deferred until a suitable market becomes available. We encourage farms to complete the process at least up to this stage as it puts them in an advantageous position as new markets come on stream.

We encourage Pending Farms to join as members and therefore benefit from the support available through the discussion forum and our organised visits. When they feel they are in a position to complete the application process, we can then transfer the membership to the combined certification membership package. In the meantime, “Pending” farms can enjoy the benefits of an online farm profile and be identified as part of the certified Pasture for Life producer network.

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