Support for UK farmers to reduce costs and decarbonise

09-04 | |
Support for UK farmers to reduce costs and decarbonise

Members of the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group are among farmers being offered support by leading UK supermarket Tesco and NatWest Bank to switch to more sustainable farming methods.

Up to 1,500 Tesco farmers are set to benefit from the voluntary scheme, as well as access to Tesco preferred suppliers, with potential volume discounts offered on assets such as solar panels and heat pumps.

The voluntary programme, which has been designed with farmers’ input, will see farmers who are part of Tesco’s Sustainable Farming Groups for dairy, beef and lamb, being able to take part in the scheme. The dairy group is now in its 17th year, having been set up to support producers during periods of economic uncertainty, and is the largest group of dairy farmers working directly with a retailer with herds ranging from 40 to nearly 2,000 cows.

Financial support

Research shows that more than 50% of Tesco farmers want to make changes but need help accessing finance to support them to make the investment. Moving to more sustainable farming practices often require up-front investments in equipment, which can create obstacles.

Through Lombard, the UK’s largest asset funder and part of NatWest, Tesco farmers will have access to attractive funding solutions and will also benefit from the firm’s strong asset knowledge and sector expertise to help support a move to decarbonising their farms. Assets which are included through the new partnership cover solar panels, wind turbines, biomass boilers, LED lighting, battery storage and combined heat and power systems.

Led by its suppliers, farmers and Tesco colleagues, the farmer groups drive improvements in efficiency and environmental performance, including carbon foot-printing, and farm animal welfare.

Renewable energy

Dave Jones, chairman of Tesco’s Sustainable Dairy Group, said access to finance was the largest barrier when trying to install green technology: “It’s great to see so many fellow dairy farmers considering more sustainable production methods like installing renewable energy technology on farm. However, accessing financial assistance for significant projects like this remains a barrier for many farmers. That’s why it’s great to see Tesco and NatWest joining forces to offer financial assistance that could help us install the new technology we need and reduce farm emissions in the process.”

Peter Huish, head of consumer industries at NatWest Group, said he recognised the challenges facing the industry including the cost of transitioning to lower emission practices: “This initiative further contributes to the UK’s climate goals and food security, as well as to NatWest’s pledge to provide £100bn of climate and sustainable funding and financing by the end of 2025. We strongly believe that to deliver a more sustainable future, partnering with leading UK consumer companies such as Tesco, and their supply chains, will be critical,” he added.

Ashwin Prasad, Tesco Group chief commercial officer, said: “The food industry has a clear role to play in ensuring we maintain food security while also helping to protect the environment and we hope innovative programmes like this will play a crucial part in achieving this. The initiative will provide our farmers with the confidence to invest in sustainable farming methods to protect the environment and we hope innovative programmes like this will play a crucial role in achieving this.”

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Tony McDougal Freelance journalist