Pasture for Life farmers in Parliament
Certified ‘Pasture for Life’ farmers met with Defra Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble and other MPs, at a Farmers in Parliament exhibition on 19 October, to discuss changes needed in government policy to encourage and support this way of farming post-Brexit.
The event was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agroecology for Sustainable Food and Farming. It believes Britain’s exit from the EU provides an opportunity to build a strategy for food and farming that is better for people, farmers and the environment.
The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) was one of nine organisations, including the Soil Association, the Woodland Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and Compassion in World Farming that arranged for some of its farmer members to attend, so they could speak directly with MPs.
Farmers Ian Boyd from the Cotswolds, John Hill from Nottinghamshire, Elizabeth and Tony Bown from Orkney and Fidelity Weston from Kent were there representing the PFLA. In particular, they were keen to see three changes in government policy:
- ‘Pasture for Life’ certification should be officially recognised in support payment policy, alongside other schemes such as organic certification
- A review is needed of the definition of grass-fed – so that consumers seeking 100% grass-fed meat and dairy are not mis-led when buying only partially grass-fed products.
- The removal of the Specified Risk Material (SRM) rule for cattle over thirty months of age.
More details about what the PFLA believes the government should do can be read here.
Elements of these requirements have been included in an opinion paper produced by the APPG for Agroecology, with policy recommendations entitled Farming post-Brexit.
Speaking at the event, Jeremy Lefroy MP for Stafford and co-chair of the APPG on Agroecology said:
“The UK now has the opportunity to take an agenda setting approach to its food and farming legislation and governance. It can adopt polices that would make us more self-reliant: enhance biodiversity, mitigate climate change, support small and family farmers and encourage much-needed new entrants.
He continued: “The adoption of agroecological principles, policies and practices across all relevant departments of government will be key to building a 21st century food and farming policy that is economically rich and robust, while operating sustainably in the truest sense of the word. This is what we hope to bring to the fore with our food and farming briefing and our Farmers in Parliament event.”
While 40 MPs had signed to say they would attend if they could, some were unable to make it. However those that did attend, held good conversations with all the farmers.
“We are very pleased to have been asked to this event and to have our voice heard,” says Fidelity Weston, certified ‘Pasture for Life’ member and PFLA director.
“What is even more important – as well as the MPs we spoke to in London, was that 22 of our members contacted their local MPs by email, asking them to support the event. This raised the awareness of the Pasture-fed Livestock Association much wider than the just those attending on the day.
“We are also very pleased to see some of our suggestions for changes in policy appearing in the APPG’s opinion paper – taking us a few steps in the right direction for sure.”