Morrisons launches support scheme to help beef & lamb farmers reach net zero

Supermarket chain Morrisons is launching a Sustainable Beef and Lamb Scheme to recognise, help and financially support beef and lamb farmers working to help the environment.

The scheme will offer livestock premiums, green discounts, subsidised audits and free environmental advice to help and reward farmers for: reducing carbon emissions; sourcing greener feeds; putting in place measures to become land and nature positive - by improving things like biodiversity and soil health; and, becoming animal and enterprise positive - by focusing on aspects like herd health and protecting family farming.

Morrisons has already embarked on a programme to be directly supplied by net zero carbon British farms by 2030, five years ahead of the market. To date over 130 beef and lamb farms have joined Morrisons net zero agriculture programme, with 500 farms expected to be on board by the end of this year. Morrisons is supplied by 2,100 beef and lamb farmers.

On joining the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Scheme, farmers will be offered:
> Free advice on carbon emissions, animal nutrition and biodiversity - including tree planting and landscape assessments;
> Subsidised environmental audits and soil testing;
> A range of discounts on products and services which will help improve farm sustainability;
> Payment premiums for their meat. For example, a 10p per kg premium will be paid for rearing one type of cattle under 18 months old to a sustainable diet.

Morrisons hopes that its new Sustainable Beef and Lamb Scheme will be assessed by Assured Food Standards (Red Tractor) through its ‘Environment Module’, announced last year, to recognise each farm’s greener commitments.

Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons, remarked, “UK agriculture currently accounts for 10 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and we know our customers want to eat meat that’s produced in a sustainable way.

“True sustainable farming means looking at the whole farm and all of its environmental aspects - and putting nature right at the middle. We are investing in the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Scheme to maintain value for customers while helping farmers reach net zero and go beyond to become nature positive. The whole farm can be part of the solution.

“We aim to significantly reduce carbon emissions in meat through improvements to what our animals eat and we’ll offset the remainder with initiatives such as sensitive tree planting and soil sequestration.

'But it’s also important to recognise that sheep and cattle largely graze on grass from their home farm, that their manures improve the soil health and biodiversity of the landscape, and that they are a nutrient rich food. All of which can also significantly improve sustainability.”

Jim Moseley, CEO at Red Tractor, said, “Sustainability and the environment are increasingly important to consumers - so retailers, caterers and brands are responding to this.

'Red Tractor’s ‘Environment Module’ is aimed at developing a common industry approach, that will enable our farmer members to meet the requirements of their customers, without the need for multiple programmes.

' We relish the opportunity to work with Morrisons, who are proud supporters of British meat, to demonstrate the green credentials of British farmers.”

Over the next eight years, Morrisons will work with its 3,000 farmers and growers to produce affordable net zero carbon meat, fruit and vegetables. Morrisons expects that the first products to reach net zero carbon status will be eggs in 2022, followed by lamb, fruit, vegetables, pork and beef in the years to follow.

Morrisons is uniquely placed to reach this goal five years ahead of industry as it is British farming’s biggest supermarket customer. Morrisons has its own expert Livestock and Produce Teams, works directly with farmers, and takes livestock, fruit and vegetables direct from farms to its 20 fruit, vegetable and meat preparation sites.

The National Farmers Union set out an ambition for farmers and growers to work towards a 2040 net zero goal, and other supermarkets are working towards 2035.