Dartmoor farmers celebrate supermarket deal with Morrisons

NFU Mutual - 31 January 2019

A consortium of Dartmoor farmers has signed its first major supermarket deal with Morrisons to stock Dartmoor lamb.

The deal involves 10 of the supermarket’s flagship South West stores – Liskeard, Penzance, Bude, Tavistock, Kingsbridge, Totnes, Teignmouth, Bideford, Verwood and Bath – and represents a major coup for the Dartmoor Farmers Association (DFA) in its mission to raise the profile of Dartmoor lamb and beef, and the importance of food provenance.

The DFA was established in 2007 when beef prices had plummeted and farmers were heavily reliant on government subsidies. With support from leading rural insurer NFU Mutual, which has provided product and liability cover for the past 11 years, the organisation has grown to include 60 farmers who, between them, look after around 25,000 sheep and 6,000 cattle on the moor.

NFU Mutual has praised Dartmoor Farmers Ltd for its innovative approach supporting local farmers. Lucy Thomas, NFU Mutual’s agent and group secretary for Newton Abbot, said:

Grazing cattle and sheep have long been part of the Dartmoor landscape so with Dartmoor Farmers Ltd beef and lamb, people know where their meat has come from and know livestock have been well looked after. To supply your produce to a major supermarket is no easy feat so it’s a credit to the quality of the product as well as the integrity of the producers.

Lucy Thomas explained how her team support the Dartmoor farmers:

Our role is to ensure our farmers are safe and secure in what they do. We spend a lot of time getting to know our farmers and understanding their businesses and, although sitting around the kitchen table with our members to discuss their needs is the usual approach, I’ve also gone up onto the moor on my horse and helped one of the Dartmoor farmers bring their Galloways in ready for calving, to make sure we know we’re supporting them as best we can.

Mat Cole has been farming on Dartmoor for 23 years and looks after 300 Galloways and South Devon cattle, and 2,000 Scottish Blackface and Whiteface Dartmoor sheep. He said:

Our livestock helps to sustain the park, its landscape and environment. The only thing that stops bracken and gorse from taking over the moor, which would prevent the public roaming freely, is the animals which are all hardy, native breeds meaning they metabolise ruffage very well, in turn creating nutrient-rich meat. The presence of cattle and sheep on Dartmoor contributes to the visitor experience of the landscape so farming and tourism go hand-in-hand. We are trying to make farming on the moor sustainable through our Dartmoor lamb and beef brand, which is more important than ever with the uncertainty of Brexit.

Dartmoor beef and lamb can be found in a number of butchers, pubs and hotels across Devon and can be purchased direct from the association’s website.

The association is also hoping its steak and ale pie, using Dartmoor Brewery’s Jail Ale, and its beef, will also be stocked by Morrisons.

Picture supplied by Dartmoor Farmers Association.

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