PARLIAMENTARIANS attended a reception in the House of Lords to highlight the importance of our native breeds of livestock and equines earlier this month.

The House of Lords reception marked 50 years of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), and was hosted by president of the trust, Baroness Hayman of Ullock on Tuesday, September 12.

The RBST is a national charity that promotes and conserves the UK's native breeds of livestock and equines. It 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. 

Farming Minister Mark Spencer told the reception that RBST's work is 'essential to protecting that genetic diversity'.

He said: "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.”

Guests heard about the work that is helping native breeds to thrive, and discussed why their survival and utilisation matters for food production, the environment and rural commnunities. 

President Baroness Hayman added: “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.”

RSBT chief executive, Christopher Price, said the focus of the charity this year is on 'Native Breeds for Modern Needs', and so the reception focused on discussion about the role of native breeds in a sustainable future of farming. 

"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," he added.