The importance of our native breeds of livestock and equines to a sustainable future for UK farming and land management was highlighted by parliamentarians including Farming Minister Mark Spencer at a reception in the House of Lords, hosted by Rare Breeds Survival Trust President Baroness Hayman of Ullock on Tuesday 12th September.


The House of Lords reception marked 50 years of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), the national charity working to promote and conserve the UK’s native breeds of livestock and equines which was formed in 1973. Ministers, MPs and Peers including Farming Minister Mark Spencer MP, Shadow Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner MP, Defra Minister Lord Benyon, former Defra Secretary George Eustice MP and former EFRA Committee Chair Baroness McIntosh joined RBST Trustees and farmers, smallholders and conservationists from across the UK to hear about the work which is helping native breeds to thrive, and to discuss why their survival and utilisation matters for food production, for the environment and for rural communities.


Farming Minister Mark Spencer told the reception: “RBST’s work conserving and promoting the UK’s native breeds is essential to protecting that genetic diversity. A strong abattoir network is a really important part of farming with native breeds and we want to continue working with RBST to help small abattoirs to flourish. The UK has some of the best products in the world, and our native livestock breeds have an important role in high quality, sustainable food production today and for the future.”


RBST President Baroness Hayman of Ullock said: “This is a milestone year for RBST as we mark 50 years of important, pioneering work to conserve and promote the UK’s native livestock and equine breeds. Interest and support for our rare native breeds continue to grow in Parliament, and this reception created a valuable opportunity to bring together Ministers, Peers and MPs with native breed experts to discuss the crucial role for these breeds in future farming where sustainable food production goes hand in hand with environmental land management.”


RBST Chief Executive Christopher Price said: “In RBST’s 50th year, we are proud to recognise the hard-won successes of the past five decades, as RBST and dedicated volunteers from across the UK brought urgently endangered rare breeds back from the brink and set other native breeds on the road from declining to thriving. But our focus this year is also on ‘Native Breeds for Modern Needs’, and this parliamentary reception was full of discussion about the role of native breeds in a sustainable future of farming and environment land management. We continue to seek a policy environment that supports and encourages farming with native breeds and keeping native equine breeds, and we look forward to continuing these discussions with the Ministers, MPs and Peers that joined us at this reception.”