The UK’s agriculture sector is at an important point in time. As an industry, we have an opportunity to redefine our sector, and UK farmers are taking the bull by the horns and are making giant strides towards sustainability.
Barclays Agriculture is a fully committed partner in this endeavour, and I’m delighted to say that we have recently launched a campaign, Sustainability Through Agritech, to help UK farmers operate more sustainably and support the drive to net zero.
Sustainability Through Agritech aims to support UK farmers on the journey to create carbon-neutral businesses. As part of this, we’ve teamed up with Nigel Owens MBE, world-renowned rugby union referee and Welsh cattle farmer, to promote the campaign. Our National Head of Agriculture Mark Suthern recently interviewed him in a special podcast which you can listen to here.
It’s been hugely encouraging to learn from our research that enthusiasm for sustainability is gaining momentum. So, where does the agriculture sector stand right now? In our survey of 1,000 UK farmers as part of Sustainability Through Agritech, two-thirds said sustainability is one of their top priorities, and 83% believe they could be as much as five years ahead of the target of making farms carbon neutral by 2035.
What’s more, more than two-thirds (69%) of participants said Brexit could accelerate their transition to becoming greener, and in so doing, also increase competitiveness. I was really pleased to learn from our research that one in six farmers believe they’ve already reached the net zero goal.
Consumers are seriously considering their role in supporting carbon-neutral food too. Based on our research sample of 2,000 consumers across the UK, it’s clear there’s a growing appetite to put their money where their mouth is. The research shows that shoppers are prepared to pay an extra £3.70 per week for sustainable produce – that translates to an additional spend across the population of over £10bn per year.
Our research shows the average farmer is set to invest £195,602 over the next decade to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability. And over a quarter of farmers plan to invest in other areas of agritech and energy, such as solar panels and anaerobic digesters.
Clearly, there is still a lot to be achieved however, all of this combined effort puts the UK well on track to achieving sustainable food systems through agritech, and to reaching net-zero in the next 15 to 20 years. Interesting times indeed.