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Booths trust Farexchange for secure supply of quality British beef

Award winning food and drink retailer Booths is marketing a unique brand of quality Yorkshire beef after the Farexchange Programme helped put a supply chain in place between the region’s farmers and the regional food store.

Beef into Booths is an exciting initiative by the retailer and the National Trust to provide shoppers with choice cuts of meat from traditional beef animals through Booths’ network of stores in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Cheshire.

Booths’ aim is to sell meat from cattle reared in the northern counties. To be eligible for the scheme the animals must be sired by a traditional breed bull such as the Hereford or Angus, be born and bred on a National Trust holding and the farm must be Freedom Foods assured.

Farexchange developed the scheme’s parameters and pricing structure in conjunction with the National Trust and Booths, so that premium price is paid for eligible cattle over and above the market average and farmers are rewarded for the quality of the animals supplied.

However, one shortcoming quickly identified was that some of the land on the National Trust farms in Cumbria does not grow sufficient feed for the animals and a significant proportion required further finishing – unlike in Yorkshire’s lowland areas which are ideal for finishing cattle for slaughter.

Farexchange addressed the issue by carrying out a review of National Trust tenants on estates in Yorkshire to identify farmers with the potential to finish the animals. Bay Tree Farm, adjacent to the National Trust’s Fountains Abbey in Ripon, was one of a number of farms deemed suitable for the task and is now finishing cattle from Cumbria for slaughter.

The North Yorkshire farm has a herd of mainly Hereford Cross cows and has the capacity to take on more animals to utilise grassland and buildings on the farm. Animals are finished entirely on produce grown at the farm making them 100 percent self sufficient in feed.

Farexchange then supported Bay Tree to attain its Freedom Foods status, allowing farmer Andrew Leeming to buy store cattle from two farms in South Cumbria – Nibthwaite Grange near Coniston and Fishwick Farm in Silverdale.

Mr Leeming said: “This transfer has secured animals for the Booths scheme which otherwise would have been sold on the open market. I now have 40 traditionally bred cattle that I know where they have been reared, which is important to me from a bio security view point. I am looking forward to seeing the cattle grow over the coming months and working with Booths in the future.”

Booths general manager fresh food, Nigel Cokell, concluded: “Farexchange has helped us to develop this opportunity unique to National Trust Farmers in the area and it is good to see the supply of cattle continue to grow as more farmers become aware of the scheme.”

Farexchange project director Steve Cann said the long-term aim of the initiative is to develop a producer-supplier group which can manage its own relationship directly with Booths and establish a network of finishing units to benefit store producers unable to finish effectively themselves.

Supported by Yorkshire Forward and the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, Farexchange is operationally led by the EFFP. It was created specifically to ensure sustainable and secure food supplies by linking Yorkshire and Humber’s farmers, food companies and retailers more effectively.

Background Information

Farexchange is an established supply chain development programme designed to connect the food trade and farmers across the Yorkshire and Humber region.

The overall aim of Farexchange is to increase collaboration, improve the efficiency of the supply chain, reduce wastage and help open up new markets in Yorkshire and beyond.

The funding is being made available via Yorkshire Forward and the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, the programme is managed by English Farming and Food Partnerships.

The creation of Farexchange is believed to the first initiative of its kind in the UK. Its programme will be delivered in conjunction with Fare Solutions, the NFU, CLA, Yorkshire & Humber Regional Food Group, EBLEX, BPEX, Yorkshire Agriculture Society, Bishop Burton College and Askham Bryan College.

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