Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is aiming to inform the public of the “essential role” that livestock farming plays in looking after the environment.

Ahead of World Earth Day on Monday, April 22, HCC said it wants to highlight the “marked difference” in production systems across the world.

HCC head of sustainability and future policy, Rachael Madeley-Davies, said: “Welsh livestock farmers know that if you look after the environment, the environment will look after you.

“For centuries, they have played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining the spectacularly beautiful rural landscapes that we know and love, and their sustainable management has helped create a diverse rural environment that is rich in wildlife and visitor-friendly, thanks to a network of footpaths maintained by farmers.”

HCC said people should be aware of the “huge variations” in environmental impacts of different farming systems across the world, while the impact of agriculture on climate change remains a hot topic.

“The Welsh way of farming has a very different story to tell compared with some of the intensive and industrial systems found in other parts of the world,” Madeley-Davies.

“With high standards of animal husbandry and grassland management, our family-run farms have helped preserve our unique landscape for generations and will continue to do so for generations to come.”

Livestock farming

Because the vast majority (80%) of Welsh farmland is unsuitable for growing crops, raising cattle and sheep is the most efficient way to turn marginal land into “high-quality food”, HCC said.

“The Welsh way of farming is largely non-intensive: unlike other parts of the world, where water resources are depleted, or significant land is used to grow feed, Welsh sheep and cattle are overwhelmingly reared on our natural resources – grass and rainwater,” HCC said.

“Grassland in the Welsh hills captures carbon from the atmosphere, and Welsh farmers make a positive contribution to mitigating climate change; managing this grassland by combining traditional practices with new innovation.”

One such farmer is Emily Jones, who alongside her parents Peter and Gill, use expertise gained by generations of farming heritage to produce Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Garnwern Farm

Garnwen Farm is centuries old slate and stone farmhouse with numerous outbuildings and traditional dry-stone walls and is located in Penuwch – 17 miles from the university town of Aberystwyth.

The 150ac farm is a beef and sheep unit which includes a commercial flock of EasyCare and South Wales Mountain, along with pedigree North Country Park Cheviots, North Country Hill Cheviots and Charmoise Hill sheep.

In terms of beef, the herd includes Stabiliser crosses, pedigree Beef Shorthorns and Red Poll cattle.

Speaking about their farming system, Jones said: “We make every effort to go back to the old times – to older farming traditions. But we’re also looking ahead and doing our bit to help the environment, such as increasing the amount of carbon capture and farming in harmony with nature.

“This has included planting herbal leys, which include clover, chicory and plantain. All of these have natural uses and will help us improve soil health, and productivity on farm, therefore reducing our carbon emissions.

“This has been a relatively new thing for us here at Garnwen, but we are aware of the impact of climate change and determined to be part of the solution in producing quality food in the most environmentally friendly way possible.”