Barclays to provide £250m funding to help farmers drive sustainability

Barclays has launched a £250 million programme to help UK farmers drive sustainability through Agri-tech.

Barclays has teamed up with Nigel Owens MBE, world-renowned rugby union referee and Welsh cattle farmer, to launch a new campaign to drive awareness amongst consumers on the benefits of helping the food system become carbon net-zero.

Sustainability Through Agri-Tech will support businesses to become carbon net-zero through Agri-Tech solutions.

In a survey of 276 Scottish farmers from a larger sample of 1,000 across the UK, eight in ten (84%) said that they believe they could be carbon neutral by 2035. This is ahead of the target set by the Scottish Government to reduce the country’s emissions of all greenhouse gases to net zero by 2045. 

One in five (20%) believe their business has already reached the carbon net zero goal, while 60% said they were thinking about how to make their businesses more sustainable in the wake of the pandemic. Almost two thirds of Scottish respondents (63%) also said that becoming greener will increase their farm’s competitiveness after the UK has left the EU, indicating Brexit could accelerate their transition to becoming carbon neutral.

Barclays has also uncovered a growing appetite among the Scottish population for carbon neutral foods, with research indicating that the average Scot would pay £190.84 per year on top of their shopping basket totals for more sustainable produce. When taking the whole population of Scotland into account, this totals over £840 million of additional spend.

When farmers were asked what investments they were making to become more sustainable, a quarter in Scotland said that they had or are planning to improve their waste and slurry management, while 25% had spent or are planning to invest in Agri-Tech to become more efficient. Scottish respondents also suggested that they plan to or are planting more trees and hedgerows (24%), while 24% are considering or are already investing in solar power and 20% in wind turbines.

Almost two-thirds of Scottish farmers (58%) said that the UK needs a more resilient food system to cope with rising temperatures, and 61% revealed sustainability and business efficiency to be their farm’s top priorities.

The Barclays campaign highlights Agri-Tech as key to helping the industry on its carbon neutral mission, as well as improve productivity. Sixty-seven per cent of farmers surveyed said Agri-Tech could help their business to become more sustainable and efficient, while almost two thirds (60%) said it would enable them to produce more food.

Graeme McNaughton, national director for Barclays Agriculture in Scotland, said: “There’s already a huge amount of work going on across Scottish farming enterprises of all types so their businesses can reach the carbon net zero goal by 2045. It’s also encouraging to see consumers willing to pay for carbon neutral foods, as we all consider our role in helping the industry become carbon neutral from farm to fork.

“Without doubt, investment in Technologies will play a part in businesses becoming carbon neutral, but it’s important that we continue to support the sector in the supply chain, both as an industry and with Government policy. We also know that over two-thirds (70 per cent) of Scottish farmers want access to further financial support from their bank to invest in this type of Technology, with 61 per cent believing it could increase job opportunities and will dramatically change the type of skills the sector requires over the coming years.

“Our research shows the average Scottish farmer set to invest £187,663 over the next decade to achieve greater efficiency and become more sustainable. That’s why we have made available £250 million and with our team of agricultural relationship managers we can help to advise on investments and their carbon net zero ambitions.”

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