Supermarket Morrisons pledge to zero carbon farm emissions

The supermarket Morrisons has pledged to be the first major retailer to be completely supplied by net zero carbon British farms by 2030.

The supermarket chain said that over the next nine years, it would place the issue to the top of its agenda - and work with the 3,000 farmers and growers who supply the company to produce affordable net zero carbon meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables.

Eggs are expected to reach carbon neutral status by 2022, followed by beef in 2025 – with climate neutral lamb, fruit, vegetables and pork joining the in the years to follow.

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Revealing the proposals yesterday, Morrisons said that it was set to work with farmers to create net zero carbon farm ‘models’. Looking at the emissions picture through the whole lifecycle of farm produce - from germination to leaving the farmgate for a Morrisons store.

“Once a workable blueprint has been established, the models will then be shared with all Morrisons farmers, so that all food can be produced in this net zero carbon way,” said David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges for our generation and growing food is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

“As British farming’s biggest supermarket customer, we’re in a unique position to guide our farms and help lead changes in environmental practices. It’s years ahead of industry expectations - and an ambitious target - but it’s our duty to do it.”

The farm models will look at reducing carbon by rearing different animal breeds, using low food-mile feedstuffs, using renewable energy and low emission housing and cutting down fuel and fertiliser use.

“They will also look to offset carbon emissions via planting grassland and clover, restoring peatland, improving soil health, planting trees and, seeding hedgerows,” said Potts.

The supermarket group said that within agriculture, beef farming was the most carbon intensive - generating 45 per cent of carbon emissions for only five per cent of products sold. As nearly half of this was down to methane produced by cattle, the retailer said it would work with its beef farms to use smaller cattle breeds, pick low methane feeds, and look at methane reducing supplements such as seaweed.

“As part of the programme, Morrisons will also work with universities, vets, farming and countryside organisations and carbon experts,” said Potts.

Defra Secretary, George Eustice MP, said that farmers would play a key role in helping the country reach its net zero targets:

“It is encouraging to see Morrisons commit to being supplied by net zero carbon British farms on such an ambitious timescale, helping to protect the environment for future generations.”

Minette Batters, president of the English NFU said that British farming had a key role to play in the nation’s drive to net zero:

“Our contribution spans three pillars of action - reducing emissions, storing carbon on farmland, and renewables and the bioeconomy,” she said, stating that the industry was willing to play its part.