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22 April 2024

Sustainability Set to Take Centre Stage at Great British Beef Week

Ben and Ethan Williams

The sustainability credentials of Welsh beef are set to be showcased during Great British Beef Week.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has a host of activity lined up for the week, which runs between April 23 and 30.

HCC will be highlighting practical steps beef farmers can take to improve efficiencies on farm and boost profitability, as well as showing consumers five different ways to use PGI Welsh Beef through different recipes.

The nationwide campaign celebrates the versatility and exceptional taste of home-produced beef, while highlighting the commitment and dedication of beef farmers to sustainable practices.

HCC’s Campaign Executive Philippa Gill said:

“Without the abundant rainfall we have here in Wales the Welsh beef story wouldn’t be what it is today. Beef cattle in Wales are overwhelmingly reared in non-intensive farming systems, using Wales’s natural resources – water and grass.

“PGI Welsh Beef has an incredible story to tell – from the people who produce it, the sustainability and environmental credentials of our Welsh beef, as well as its versatility and great taste. Those are all things that HCC is going to champion and amplify during the week – taking a multi-pronged approach to highlighting the uniquely Welsh credentials which we know resonate so well with consumers.”

Philippa Gill

Addressing the issue of sustainability of beef production in Wales, HCC’s Head of Sustainability and Future Policy Rachael Madeley-Davies said:

“All sectors of human activity – including agriculture and food production – have a role to play in responding to the climate emergency and addressing questions around sustainable food production.

“HCC recognises that difficult choices have to be made, and creative solutions found, to feed a growing world population equitably without further degrading the environment and adding to climate change. We believe passionately that food and farming in Wales are already making a positive contribution, and we will support the red meat sector to ensure they are equipped to face the challenges of the future.”

Fourth generation beef and sheep farmer Ben Williams, who farms alongside his brother Ethan on the outskirts of Cardiff at Garth Farm, added: “The native grassland is not intensively farmed here. The animals are grown at a slower rate, so you get better fat marbling in the meat. When our customers see where our animals graze, in a natural environment, amongst the native grassland and heather, I think they can really taste the difference.”

Garth farm is home to the Williams family who have taken care of the land here since 1959. Today the family keep a flock of almost 700 ewes – South Welsh Mountain, Suffolk crosses, and Black Welsh Mountain – and 20 rams – South Welsh Mountain and Black Welsh Mountain. The Williams’ also have a herd of pedigree Welsh Black cattle consisting of 46 suckler cows, two bull and some Welsh pigs.

The land encompasses Garth Hill, a scheduled ancient monument, and the Williams’ play an integral role as custodians of the land. Their grazing management allows biodiversity to thrive, while ensuring their animals get the best nutrition, feeding on grass and herbs as nature intended.

“My grandfather carried out work on the hill in the 1950s, which greatly improved the biodiversity here. Visitors to Garth Hill today can appreciate nature at its best – with birds such as sky larks and kestrels thriving,” said Ben.

“We have a rich environment with native grass species and native woodland. We have planted 80,000 trees over the years and continued to lay hedgerows for the past 20 years, which are a haven for wildlife. There is plenty of tree cover, so we have many birds nesting here.

“It’s good to know that while our cattle are grazing in this rich and diverse natural environment, they are helping to protect it. I think this is what makes Welsh beef so special.”

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