Our latest report, which highlights research from the National Farmers Union, finds that the challenges the agriculture industry is facing cannot be tackled by just one organisation or sector alone. Individual farmers are part of a larger whole, and agriculture is itself part of our wider food ecosystem.
To protect and grow the sector sustainably, partnership, collaboration and knowledge sharing across sectors is key. The report reinforces the need for collaborative action across the agricultural sector to accelerate its transition to more sustainable ways of operating.
The report identifies three key areas of focus to future proof the sector:
- The agriculture sector should be classified as a critical strategic industry, with a clear government strategy that reflects the entire food system.
- A common set of metrics should be agreed which define the environmental outcomes farmers need to achieve in pursuit of net zero.
- Farmers should be financially rewarded for achieving these outcomes through discounted finance or access to improved investment - retailers and manufacturers should offer favourable procurement and payment terms.
In recognition of these three areas, we’ve announced a set of partnerships to drive progress across the sector:
- Through our Asset Finance arm Lombard, we've announced a partnership with the frozen potato products manufacturer McCain, to offer its potato growers increased funding support and preferential terms. This will be matched by McCain for assets that support regenerative agriculture, aligned to their global commitment to implementing these practices across 100% of its potato acreage by 2030.
- To provide the tools and platforms needed to measure data, we've selected Google Cloud in conjunction with Climate Engine’s SpatiaFi software, to harness geospatial analytics to automate key climate related data and linking defined fields and property to a customer’s registered address, helping farmers build a tailored picture of the challenges facing them, from flood and drought risks, to biodiversity. This will then help farmers identify, track and respond to these key areas of risk, and report more simply on common metrics.
- Finally, to accelerate change at an industry wide level, we're also working with WWF-UK to bring together UK Government, food companies, farming organisations, financiers and NGOs to focus on financial and practical interventions to support farmers, such as incentives for farmers to collect data and the adoption of common metrics.
These partnerships are some of the ways we're helping to deliver a total commitment of £6.7billion of lending to farmers, helping them invest in their operations. This total includes the £1.25billion lending package we announced to support the sector with challenges posed by inflation in July 2022.
Alison Rose DBE, Chief Executive, NatWest Group said:
“The UK Agriculture sector is at a turning point, facing higher costs, declining domestic production, supply chain issues, inflation, and what many see as the daunting challenge of net-zero. With just under half of the actual food on plates now produced in the UK – compared to 78% in the mid-1980s – it is clear the industry needs collective action for a sustainable and secure future.
“NatWest has now committed £6.7billion of total funding to this sector, and we will continue to stand by farmers to invest in their transition, whilst continuing to focus on financial solutions and partnerships, such as those with McCain, WWF-UK and Google that we have announced today to help drive this change.”