Becoming Pasture for Life certified
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 for Life 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 farmers 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.
Join the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association. Membership costs £100 per year and benefits include:
- Access to the online discussion forum (and all historical discussions, over 2000 of them) – one farmer said recently that the forum was invaluable, saving him time and a lot of money, by being able to access information from a range of sources quickly and at no extra cost.
- A regular newsletter with updates, news, case study features, relevant events and discount offers.
- Access to our events – we run an annual study tour, various farm visits and various specialist meetings. We also partner in the delivery of the grass-fed agricultural show at Groundswell (http://www.groundswellag.com/).
- Access to discounts – these are fairly varied, but can add up to make the annual membership fee even cheaper.
- Access to support for achieving 100% grass-fed Pasture for Life certified status – as and when members wish to.
On top of this membership fees allow the PFLA to work on creating an identity in the market and product development, building supply chains and routes to market. They also help us in lobbying policy makers around key issues such as the requirement for a proper legal definition of the term grass-fed and a recognition in any future agricultural payment system of the value of Pasture for Life certification.
You can join here.
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.
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
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.
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
An independent inspection of each certified Pasture for Life business is essential to ensure the integrity of the certification mark is maintained.
There are two options for having an inspection to gain full certification status.
- Annual Inspection
Some retailers require their producers to undergo annual inspections. If your route to market requires this level of scrutiny for Pasture for Life certification, or you are unsure whether you can commit to certification for three years (see below), you can opt for an annual farm inspection. This can usually be combined with some other assurance scheme inspections such as Red Tractor to save time and cost.
- Tri-Annual Inspection
This option allows farms to have one on-farm inspection, combined with other assurance scheme inspections if possible, followed by two years of desk-top inspections, for a lower annual fee. The cost of the inspection is incurred by auditors in year one, but paid back by the farmer over three years. Exit fees will apply for leaving the scheme before the end of the third year. The farmer has to sign an agreement before proceeding with the inspection option.
Organic Farmers and Growers (OF&G) carry out the administration of Pasture for Life certification on behalf of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, in conjunction with Acoura, who conduct the actual inspections.
Once the application stage has been completed, and if applicable, the Tri-Annual agreement form has been signed and returned to the PFLA office, OF&G will be instructed to arrange an audit. They will liaise with the Pasture for Life business, whether they are organic or not, and will make arrangements for any inspections. They will also, with the PFLA, deal with any issues that may arise.
To find out about inspection arrangements for butchers and retailers, contact the PFLA office.
What does it cost to become certified Pasture for Life?
To become certified Pasture for Life, businesses must first become a member of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, which costs £100 per year.
This offers all the benefits of PFLA membership, such as membership of the active discussion forum, provision of promotional materials, having an online profile on the PFLA website and benefitting from national and local PR activities. It also covers support for the certification application up to the point of gaining ‘Provisional’ certification.
Full 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 OF&G. Costs vary depending on whether the business chooses an annual or tri-annual inspection regime and whether the Pasture for Life audit is combined with other farm assurance inspections, such as organic or Red Tractor.
Prices start from £107 per year. For full details of both inspection options, including costs click here.
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.
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.
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 Certification Standards to demonstrate to markets the potential supply base that exists in the area.
For such producers, we are able to process applications to the ‘Provisional’ stage, which means that inspection costs are deferred until a suitable market becomes available.
In the meantime, provisionally certified farms can enjoy the benefits of an online farm profile and be identified as part of the certified network. We encourage farms to complete the process up to this stage, as it puts them in advantageous position as new markets come on stream.
Interested in becoming certified Pasture for Life?
Use the link below to send your application to the Pasture for Life Certification Team.
Tell us about your business and why you would like to join the Pasture for Life network of farmers, processors and retailers.