Farmer Focus: Got to admire the vegan press coverage

We had an extremely busy Christmas and attracted new customers, many stating that it is their new year’s resolution to shop local and buy high-quality, ethically reared meat.

There is no doubt an upturn in the amount of people claiming to be vegan, especially during “Veganuary”. Although there are many militant individuals with extremist views, as there are with all beliefs, we must admire the marketing and press coverage that has been achieved in recent years.

I personally believe that all this negativity and storytelling of bad practice and factory farming provides us with an opportunity to sell and market our story.

The majority of UK farms operate on a grass-based system that has embraced technological advances to ensure the highest standards of welfare.

See also: Young sheep farmers share tips on year-round lamb marketing

I personally believe that from a red meat perspective we need to develop and reduce our reliance on grain to finish animals, and this is something that we are doing on our own farm by introducing clover into existing swards through overseeding and through genetic selection of animals.

There must be common ground for meat eaters and non-meat eaters, and I believe that both parties share a belief that animal welfare is paramount.

A farmer’s purpose is to protect and provide for his livestock. Without a healthy and thriving flock, herd or environment the farm would cease to exist.

From an environmental aspect there are arguments both for and against each way of life.

Cultivating grain to feed animals, deforestation to grow additional avocados, or growing cheap crops to supply demand for meat-free options can all put pressures on ecosystems.

This is why it’s refreshing to see so many people now understanding the importance of shopping local to reduce food miles and buying in season to reduce the need for chemicals and imports.

Paying a fair price and giving producers a fair return means they can then reinvest in farm systems, improve the environment and train to continually develop and learn.

Let’s hope that this year’s resolutions are long term and the demand for free-range, ethically grown British produce continues to grow, and the true value of such produce is further explained and understood.

Shaun Hall Jones is a Farmer Focus writer in Carmarthenshire. Read his biography.