Beef farming has been subject to criticism with quotas imposed on production in many instances. This has undermined beef farming, and the practices, knowledge and skills that have been handed down from generation to generation. Furthermore, opportunities to develop additional income streams are limited in many rural areas.
The Burren Winterage Festival takes place in the Burren, a UNESCO Global Geopark. It celebrates the traditional practice of transhumance that takes place there annually, connecting agriculture with tourism in the context of place-based production practices. This practice is captured in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Ireland. The unique aspect of transhumance as practiced in the Burren is that farmers practice a system of ‘reverse transhumance’ whereby livestock are moved to upland pastures (known locally as ‘winterages’) over the winter months, before returning to fertile lowland pastures for the summer. The unique features of the rough limestone grasslands, enables the cattle to be grazed between the months of September and April.
This event is linked to a festival to enhance the economic viability of the area as well as to enhance the image of farming. It is a community-led initiative, coordinated by the local landscape charity, the Burrenbeo Trust, and working with local farming and conservation organizations as well as commercial sponsors and government departments.
The main benefits of this initiative are:
- The celebration of farming practices associated with beef production.
- The provision of an opportunity to build promotional activities based on the recognized brand provided by UNESCO.
- The opportunity it provides for additional income streams for the area (through tourism).
Literature sources: https://www.burrenwinterage.com/ ;