The Red Meat Development Programme, a five-year initiative by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) to ensure the Welsh lamb and beef supply chains are ready for future challenges, is now in full swing with hundreds of farmers, as well as processors, engaged in various projects within the scheme.

To help deliver this ambitious work, HCC has recruited two recent agriculture graduates from Aberystwyth and Harper Adams Universities as project officers.

The programme is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government, and includes three distinct projects. The Stoc+ programme helps vets and farmers to work on pro-active measures to ensure the best possible animal health; the Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project examines the various influences on the eating quality of lamb; while the Hill Ram Scheme engages upland farms in performance recording and genetic improvement of their flocks.

Sean Jeffreys, who originally hails from Swansea, has been recruited to work on the Hill Ram Scheme and Stoc+ projects. He attended Harper Adams University where he graduated with a degree in Agriculture with Marketing. As part of his studies he examined the sustainability of upland sheep farming, and has a keen interest in sheep breeding as well as practical on-farm experience.

Elizabeth Swancott recently graduated in Agriculture with Business from Aberystwyth University, having grown up on a family beef and sheep farm near Knighton in Powys. Elizabeth will be helping to deliver the Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project, where she will draw on her degree studies in meat science as well as work placements in the processing sector, as well as working on Stoc+.

HCC’s Industry Development and Relations Manager, John Richards, said that the two new recruits were an ideal fit to join the Red Meat Development Programme team.

“As the projects have now been running for a year, with more and more farmers joining, we needed to strengthen our team to ensure we deliver this ambitious Programme,” said John. “We’re lucky to have universities nearby who offer highly-respected agriculture courses, so both Elizabeth and Sean arrive with a firm foundation in their respective fields.”

He added, “The three projects within the Red Meat Development Programme are all looking at ways to strengthen the industry – to increase profitability and sustainability from the farm right through the supply chain, in ways which also make Welsh lamb and beef more appealing to the consumer. The aim is to make our sector as resilient as possible as we head into a period of uncertainty.”