Welsh PFLA Uplands group gets underway
Working closely with PONT – a conservation-grazing organisation in Wales, the PFLA has kicked off the new farmer-led group at the western end of the Brecon Beacons, including and surrounding the Mynydd Du, or ‘Black Mountain’.
The aim of the PFLA’s project is for groups of farmers to explore pasture-fed farming methods as a means to improving farm profitability. It was launched in response to the actions of some upland farmers who found they could improve business performance by managing land and livestock without grain-based inputs.
Over the course of the next two years the Welsh group will have the chance to hear from speakers, visit pasture-fed farms, conduct trials and learn together about future possibilities. Other organisations with a vested interest in management of the local landscape will be involved to co-create solutions and support farmers making changes.
Emma Douglas, who works part-time for PONT and farms with her family on the Gower Peninsula, has been appointed as the coordinator for the group.
“I’m really pleased to be heading up this important group,” says Emma. “Through PONT I’ve worked in this area for some time and understand the complexities of farming in a difficult area, where there are added challenges caused by livestock worrying by dogs, and even fires on the moorland. I’m also looking forward to learning more about pasture-fed farming via this project and developing my own skills as a group facilitator.”
PONT works with individuals and organisations to deliver appropriate grazing regimes for the benefit of wildlife, both on individual sites and at a local and regional level.
“PONT is a really good fit for co-delivering this project in Wales,” says Russ Carrington, the PFLA’s general manager who is coordinating the project nationally. “This area brings its own set of issues but being locally-led the group is well equipped to explore possibilities and overcome barriers.
“We are also going to be working with farmers in the group to look at farm economics and the financial impacts of changing systems of management. We can then use those learnings in other Severely Disadvantaged Areas of the UK.”
The Princes Countryside Fund have provided funding for the wider national project so far and several other local organisations have provided resources and support in-kind. The PFLA is hopeful of securing further funding in due course as the local groups become further established.
Prince of Wales is updated
As part of a meeting held in the Lake District to discuss the management of the landscape there, now a World Heritage Site, Russ Carrington also had chance to meet with HRH Prince of Wales.
The Prince is patron of the Foundation for Common Land who convened the meeting in Ambleside, Cumbria, together with the Lake District National Park Authority. The purpose of the gathering was to encourage further collaboration between different organisations and sectors (agriculture, tourism, etc.), to improve the natural and farmed environment.
Russ shared the PFLA’s work in developing a certification mark (Pasture for Life) to recognise livestock reared purely on a pasture-fed diet – which encourages a different approach to pasture and soil management, and can deliver a number of positive environmental outcomes.
The meeting also heard from other farmer-led initiatives that are achieving habitat recovery in some areas of the Lakes and HRH the Prince of Wales was keen to hear about future plans for looking after the iconic landscape.
The PFLA’s Cumbria group has also been active in the area with more events planned for the summer.
PFLA members can get in touch here if they’d like to be involved with these groups working in Upland areas. The PFLA plans to launch its next group in Scotland soon.