A first for Oldfarm

It has taken almost three years but Oldfarm has got the Bord Bia Quality Assured mark for their free-range pork and bacon.

Back in early 2010 Alfie McCaffrey who raises free-range gmo-free pigs at Oldfarm, Redwood in North Tipperary started questioning why was there no ‘mark’ for free-range pork?  There is for chicken, but not for pork.  There are ‘marks’ for organic pork, but nothing for free-range.

He thought it would be a good accolade for Oldfarm Pork.

So the quest began.

McCaffrey approached Bord Bia who suggested that a breeders’ association be formed, and so the Irish Free Range Breeders Association was born with about 20 members.  McCaffrey was nominated chairperson of the association.

For two years, McCaffrey travelled frequently from Tipperary to Dublin to sit on Bord Bia’s Pig Meat Board. McCaffrey’s hope had been that if they approved a ‘free-range’ label it would include ‘non-gmo’ but there was “absolutely no way this was going to be allowed”, he was informed.

At the end of the two years, a framework was agreed as to what the definition of free-range should be:

Free-range farmed: a type of animal husbandry where pigs have free access to fields/woodland with defined boundaries for all or most of their natural life. They receive their nutritional needs from prepared natural feed or from pasture or forage depending on the season.

The next step involved being audited and completing a lot of paperwork for submission to Bord Bia.  Completion of the paperwork is not onerous but it does focus your attention on detail, and why it is necessary to have standards that can be independently audited and maintained.  Standards such as this give credence, traceability and confidence to the consumer.

The paperwork has been completed and assessed, and this week the Certification for Bord Bia Quality Assurance Standard has been granted and is about to take pride of place on the wall at Oldfarm.

As McCaffrey stated: “We are in the business to sell top-quality natural reared pork and bacon directly to our customers.

Image courtsey Oldfarm