The final in a series of three informative articles by John Meadley of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association. He explains why raising animals on grass is much preferred over the intensive and unnatural way of keeping them in feedlots.
Given that two-thirds of the world’s farmed land is pasture, and the unique ability of ruminants to convert this into something humans can eat, raising ruminants wholly on pasture makes a lot of sense. This is why we set up the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) in 2011.
PFLA promotes the raising of ruminant livestock exclusively on pasture and does so through the development and promotion of a brand — Pasture for Life — and the certification and auditing of those farmers who agree to meet the standards. The brand highlights the benefits to the animal by eating a natural diet and growing naturally along with a higher level of welfare. There are also environment benefits (e.g. lower carbon footprint, minimum use of chemicals or fossil fuels). All of these advantages help the consumer, too. Further, our tracking system links the consumer to the meat they buy with our certification. Certified meat from the animals we raise is given a bar code which consumers scan with their mobile phone thereby showing them the farm from which the animal came and information about the animal itself. There is complete transparency throughout the supply chain. Examples are available to see on our website.
The PFLA is a community interest company run largely by volunteers and whose members are predominantly farmers. Having set up the certification and tracking systems and developed the brand, we are increasing both the production of certified meat and awareness of Pasture for Life. We are currently mapping our producers, getting a better understanding of the economics of pasture-fed production, and contacting the many businesses that claim to be ‘grass-fed’ but do not have a recognised brand or standard to underwrite their claim. We are encouraging our farmers to build themselves into production hubs as the core of new and transparent supply chains. Cutting across this is our wish to ensure complete utilisation of the carcass and that certified produce is available to everyone – including those on lower incomes – whether through purchasing specific cuts or such products as pies and sausages that contain certified meat.
You can find your nearest supplier here and purchase direct from a farm or have it delivered to your door.
Can pasture-fed livestock feed the world? That many people go hungry now reflects deep failures in our economic system as well as in how we use and share the resources available to us. In broad terms, a third of the food the world produces is wasted, a third of the grain produced is fed to livestock, and a quarter of the world’s land area is pasture. There is little doubt that we can feed the world now and in the future if we cut out the waste, ate less meat raised on grain, and made better use of the world’s pastures.
To learn more about why the future is pasture, please read our booklet, ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ by Anna Bassett, which is available on line here.