A campaign to protect Herdwick farming and give upland farmers a better deal for their livestock is being launched – thanks to funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF).

The £50,000 grant, secured by Taste Cumbria and partners the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association, will be used to help Cumbrian farmers capitalise on the recently awarded worldwide Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for Herdwick sheep.

The funding will be used to help Herdwick sheep farmers create new, profitable markets for their products.

Herdwick meat is a seasonal product, in limited supply, so contracts sought will be those which offer Herdwick meat to the highest quality and offer farmers the biggest difference to their bottom line.

The project’s aim is to help farmers win high-profile supply contracts with local, regional or national food suppliers.

Mary Houston, Taste Cumbria manager, said: “Herdwicks are not just a tourism gimmick, they are a livelihood for many, dedicated farmers in Cumbria. This industry needs to be supported and celebrated.

“The Herdwick story and the unique characteristics of Herdwick meat should be sensibly communicated, so that visitors to Cumbria and the wider, British food industry can understand the significance of its journey to our plates, and reward our farmers with higher premiums.”
Mary Houston, Tast Cumbria manager

“The Herdwick story and the unique characteristics of Herdwick meat should be sensibly communicated, so that visitors to Cumbria and the wider, British food industry can understand the significance of its journey to our plates, and reward our farmers with higher premiums.”

An upland farmer only earns on average £6,000 a year and the campaign aims to boost the earnings of upland farmers.

Amanda Carson, secretary of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association, said she hoped the award of the grant would raise awareness of the Herdwick and hill farmers of Cumbria and encourage people to visit the Lake District and enjoy our local heritage.

Liberal Democrat chairman and South Lakes MP Tim Farron, who is also chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, said he would be urging the government to support the scheme.

“We need to do all we can to support our farming industry particularly in the uplands where life can be a real struggle,” he said.

“This support and funding could make a massive difference to upland farmers throughout Cumbria.

“This is another initiative that could help show the next generation that there is a real future in a career in farming and I will press the government to support the scheme and do everything they can to help.”

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