Welsh government urged to promote native breeds more

The Welsh government has been urged to promote the benefits of native breeds
The Welsh government has been urged to promote the benefits of native breeds

The Welsh government has been told to do more to promote and support native breeds of livestock in order to maximise benefits that they can provide.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has said native breeds should be 'integral' to the future direction of agricultural policy in Wales.

The charity said the new Sustainable Land Management policy on supporting biodiversity should extend to agro-biodiversity, including native livestock and equines.

The role of native breeds in the maintenance of natural habitats should also be better recognised, RBST said, with incentives to encourage farmers to use them in preference to larger continental breeds.

The Welsh government should also promote the benefits of native breeds, maximising their economic value to local areas and to the rural economy.

The charity's chief executive Christopher Price said Wales' native breeds were the 'ultimate ecosystem service providers'.

"They have been bred for our landscapes and have for centuries provided food and clothing across Wales while at the same time developing and maintaining natural habitats.

"There is great potential to increase the important benefits they already deliver, both economic and environmental."

Policies to maximise the benefits to Wales from native breeds of livestock must go hand in hand with action to reverse the decline of the local abattoir network, he said.

"The shortage and uneven geographic dispersal of abattoirs which are capable of processing non-standard animals in small numbers is very restrictive for farmers and smallholders who want to choose rare breeds.

"A partnership approach where farmers collaborate to ensure consistency of supply and Welsh government invests in future-proofing services and skills, including mobile and pop-up abattoirs where needed, is crucial.”

He added that the Welsh government should now create policy that would allow Wales to capitalise on these benefits, 'now and for the generations to come'.

“Welsh government is proposing the most significant changes to Welsh agriculture policy in decades, and native breeds should be integral to its ambition to support sustainable food production," Mr Price said.