The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, a community interest company set up earlier this year by a group of 20 farmers, plans to launch a series of pilots with farmers and butchers in the autumn with a view to launching the brand Pastoral in 2012.
The farmers, who are mainly from the Midlands, the West and the South-West, want to promote the economic and environmental benefits of eating products from animals fed entirely on pasture, and to encourage farmers to use pastureland more productively. More than half the UK's farmland was pasture, the group said, and pasture-fed dairy and meat products could be positioned as more sustainable alternatives to products from livestock raised on imported grains and soyabeans.
If the UK were to choose grass over grain for feed, it could move towards a farming system less dependent on traded commodities, it added.
Farmers in the PFLA could see "the inherent fault-lines" in industrial livestock farming, said company secretary John Meadley. "They intend to secure the future of their farms through an approach that builds on Britain's advantage in pasture," he added.
The PFLA will initially focus on exchanging information between members on pasture and livestock management, and set up a website. This will be followed by the pilots and rollout of Pastoral.
The volumes produced by PFLA members would initially be too small to be of interest to the mults, but the group said it hoped to build momentum by working with local butchers.
In the US, there is a small but significant market for grass-fed livestock products, and the PFLA said it was in close contact with its counterparts of the American Grassfed Association.