Marks and Spencers have announced its Farm of the Future programme, which aims to support livestock farmers to rapidly decarbonise production to help hit net zero by 2040.
Working with suppliers and Harper Adams University’s School of Sustainable Food and Farming, the seven-year programme will work with M&S selected focus farms on six production sectors to implement sustainable, on-farm activities.
Head of agriculture & fisheries at M&S Food, Steve McLean, explains the initiative: “As part of our sustainability action plan ‘Plan A’, we have committed to reducing our carbon footprint to net zero by 2040. Over 70% of the emissions of our food business come from primary agriculture, particularly the livestock and ruminant sectors, so it is clear this needs real focus.
“We recognise the challenges this brings on farm, and the need to continue to produce affordable, high-quality food from sustainable supply chain relationships. We are committed to helping our M&S Select Farmers navigate these challenges, and this new initiative will enable us to support innovative approaches on seven of our M&S Select Farms, with the findings being shared across our whole supply base and the wider industry to help drive real change.
Covering beef, lamb, dairy, chicken, pork and egg sectors, the nominated farms will receive guidance on decarbonise, maximisation of wildlife and habitat creation, and understanding where system change is needed.
It also aims to establish a network of support, allowing recognised practitioners in agricultural sustainability to give advice on farm efficiency and animal welfare.
Director of the School of Sustainable Food and Farming Simon Thelwell commented: “A key part of the work the School of Sustainable Food and Farming does is centred around making sure that every part of our supply chain – from farm to fork – is kept up to date with the latest innovations, knowledge and training around sustainable agricultural production.
“Strengthening that relationship between farmers, retailers and centres of specialist knowledge such as Harper Adams University is mutually beneficial and helps drive improvement throughout the supply chain.
The programme is delivered in collaboration with Cranswick, Skea Eggs, Dunbia, Scotbeef, Linden Foods, Müller and 2 Sisters Food Group, following on from their 2021 Farming with Nature programme.