About Pasture for Life Standards
Beef farmer John Turner, a founder member of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, explains why grass-fed claims need to be underpinned by a certification process, and the benefits this brings to both farmers and consumers.
All too often, the descriptions used to promote food sales promise much, but in reality turn out to be little more than marketing spin.
This was one of the main reasons a small group of farmers came together to form the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association. We were concerned about the haphazard and often misleading use of the description ‘grass-fed’, and wanted to provide opportunities for the genuine efforts of genuine pasture producers to be properly recognised.
The Pasture for Like mark certifies that Pasture for Life Meat and Dairy comes from animals raised only on grass and pasture. We know this because we visit all the farms and make sure the farmers are following a set of agreed production standards, based upon the animal’s natural diet.
The Certification Standards reflect all the important areas we know people would like to see in the way their food is produced.
High Animal Welfare
All our certified farms meet the requirements of Farm Assurance Standards, as a minimum.
However, most of our producers choose to operate at a much higher standard of animal welfare, either through the RSPCA Assured Scheme or High Animal Welfare or Organic Certification.
A Natural Diet
Animals kept according to Pasture for Life standards are not fed any form of grain or manufactured feeds. Farmers often refer these to as ‘concentrate feeds’.
These typically include high-energy and high-protein components such as soya, maize, wheat or pulses such as peas and beans. Intensive livestock production relies upon these to accelerate animal growth and production.
However, this kind of high-performance diet can put pressure on an animal’s body. They often have a shorter lifespan and experience a more stressful life than those fed more naturally.
Furthermore, the production of crops such as soya can often have a severe environmental impact, particularly in South America, where rainforest continues to be cleared to produce animal feed. The production of maize in the UK is also being increasingly linked to soil degradation and water pollution.
We also know from published research that many of the human health benefits found in food from animals fed pasture for life, are lost when their grazing is supplemented with concentrate feeds. Our Certification Standards ensure that animals must be able to graze pastures when the grass is growing in the fields. In the winter months they can be given conserved pasture in the form of hay or silage or other agreed forms of forage.
Our Certification Standards also encourage farmers to make the most of the wildlife benefits that grazing offers.
We provide guidance on the management of natural and semi-natural grasslands and traditional hay meadows. This is also imbedded within the Certification Standards, where we include important advice on aspects such as the timing of farming operations, like haymaking, to ensure minimal disturbance to nesting birds.
Becoming a Certified Farmer, Butcher or Supplier
To become a Certified Farmer, beef and sheep and dairy producers must feel completely confident that their farming methods meet the Certification Standards, which describe how cattle and sheep should be looked after and fed.
Once approved, farmers can market their meat and dairy produce under the Pasture for Life brand.
Click here to find out more about the process of becoming a certified farm, butcher or supplier.
Pasture for Life Certification Standards reflect all the important areas consumers want to see in the way their food is produced:
- High animal welfare
- A natural diet
- Wildlife-friendly fields