Thursday, 11 June 2009

Dartmoor Farmers Association - marketing native-breed beef & sheep

This initiative has been set up to move away from the commodity-driven supply to the premium-branded quality, traceable market producing meat with a strong environmental and socio-economic provenance.

See the Farmers Weekly report and the Dartmoor Farmers Association site for further details.

This type of scheme is not new and has been tried all over the UK with different degrees of success. Every area is unique with different problems relating to proximity to population and markets, slaughter facilities etc. but it strikes me that it should be at least considered by areas where such schemes could provide benefit.

One of the 'unseen' benefits could be in the reported increased willingness of farmers to work together - not something that hill farmers have been renowned for. The initiative has also acted as a focus for the levering of funds from a variety of sources that would not otherwise have been available to support the hill farming industry on Dartmoor. My view is that unless hill areas have a viable farming industry that is sympathetic to the requirements of the land, these areas will wither and will change into something that no-one wants.

This fits in well with my cry that the farmers must be allowed to farm, but to do this, they must be seen to be willing to take charge of their own destiny.

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