Ecological livestock industry growing strongly in Pyrenees
Farmers leaving conventional methods to take over the full cycle of production
The generational change in the farming activity of the Catalan Pyrenees mountains and the effects that the economic crisis had on the sector over the last ten years are two of the factors that have advanced progress towards an ecological model, where more and more the farmers are not only producing but preparing and commercializing the meat they produce.
Even so, the bet on this ecological option continues to be a challenge for the farmers, both due to the added difficulty that it implies and the fact of having to provide the necessary resources. In this context, the owners of a rabbit farm in northern Catalonia operating in the ecological model have launched a workshop that will allow them to promote the sale of their product in small quantities between its most nearby and local customers.
Downsizing to “slow down” the process
At the Finca Canemar farm in Bellestar, located in the county of Alt Urgell, they have been producing ecological rabbit meat for five years now. On the same site, animals had been bred in the conventional manner until relatively recently, before it was decided to reconvert the farm and downsize from the livestock of 600 rabbits to the current 88.
All in all, this was done to "slow down" the entire process, according to one of its owners and caretaker of the rabbits, Isabel Perera. Their model has so far been unique in the territory, and their products are sold not only within Catalonia but also in parts of Valencia and the Basque Country.
Full cycle of production
The production cycle of rabbit livestock is “very fast” and requires demand for the product to “stay loyal,” Perera explains in an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN). She says that it is necessary to be able to process, prepare, and commercialize the meat on their own site as the quantity of meat from each rabbit makes it difficult to market their product in anything but “small doses.”
With this in mind, and with a grant from the project Leader, Perera and others on the farm have built a workshop on their premises. This way, they can provide more value to the customer, and diversify in order to avoid having to maintain the same commercial margin they had while working in the conventional sector.
“I’m a slave to the market, and I want to reach the consumer, who is ultimately the one who will benefit from this,”
Isabel Perera · Owner of Finca Canemar farm
“Thrilling” change, but “not easy”
Núria Fontanet, a Catalan government official working in agriculture, said that the path for farmers toward getting involved in the rest of the production cycle beyond their traditional role “is not easy.”
However, she went on to describe the current trend moving toward this ecological model in the past decade as “thrilling,” and said there’s an increasing awareness about the opportunities provided by these “added value” activities.
Fontanet also believes the introduction of younger farmers from the new generation has influenced the trend of this type. By sectors, despite this new ecological model still being in its “developmental” stage, beef, sheep, and goats are leading the line in this new way of producing and consuming meat.