Certification for grass-fed meat and dairy now available in Ireland
Irish farmers and processors interested in gaining third party assurance for 100% grass-fed meat and dairy can now be certified by the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA).
The organisation’s certification mark ‘Pasture for Life’ has been operating in the UK for the past three years, providing integrity to grass-fed marketing claims and authenticating production from entirely pasture-based beef, lamb and dairy farms.
The ‘Pasture for Life’ mark is underpinned by a set of standards, which define that animals may only be fed fresh or conserved pasture with no grains, maize or soya.
Organic Farmers and Growers (OF&G) is contracted by the PFLA to administer the ‘Pasture for Life’ scheme for all farmers, not just those who are organically certified.
In Ireland an arrangement has been made with the Organic Trust (OT) to deliver audits for farmers. Farms organically certified with the OT can have their audits combined with ‘Pasture for Life’ to save time and money.
Benefits of 100% grass-fed
The ‘Pasture for Life’ standards have been developed by farmers, supported by scientific research that shows nutritional benefits for humans consuming meat and dairy from animals fed purely on pasture.
Other positives of just feeding grass, including high standards of animal welfare and increased biodiversity and improved soil health are driving demand for certified produce. Consumers are also becoming wise to unwarranted grass-fed claims and looking for assurance that product labels are genuine.
“We recognise Ireland’s ability to grow and feed fantastic grass and are keen to extend our certification service to Irish farmers and processors amid growing interest and the potential for future trade opportunities,” says Russ Carrington, PFLA general manager.
“We are keen to link the grassland expertise in Ireland with our wealth of experience of animal, pasture and soil management and provide the opportunity for Irish farmers to engage with our thriving PFLA community.”
The PFLA was established in 2011 by a small group of UK farmers as a community interest company, to champion the rearing of livestock just on pasture. It now has 75 certified ‘Pasture for Life’ farms with produce sold through 35 retail outlets ranging from farm shops, high street butchers and online meat box schemes.
The organisation has a further 350 non-certified members who are working toward certification.
Irish farmers interested in becoming certified ‘Pasture for Life’ can find out more here or contact the PFLA office on +44 (0)1285 889853.
It is quick and easy to join the association and when ready, farmers who meet the 100% grass-fed requirements, can apply for certification via a simple online application form, followed up by an on-farm audit.
“We feel sure certified 100% grass-fed produce will be available for Irish consumers in a matter of months,” says Mr. Carrington. “We already have a number of Irish farmers who are keen to work with us to make this a reality.”