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    Morrisons launch Sustainable Farm Network to support farmers on net zero journey

    Posted 1 March

    “At Harper Adams, we’ll be linking the Morrisons network to our students and research at both undergraduate and postgraduate level – allowing the farmers of the future to learn from those feeding Britain today.”

    Morrisons launched their new network at an in-store event

    An innovative farm network which will drive a step change in sustainability for farmers across Morrisons supply chain and beyond has been launched.

    The Morrisons Sustainable Farm Network is at the heart of a programme being unveiled as part of the retailer's ongoing work to support its supplying farms on their journey to sustainable, net zero farming. 

    Being delivered alongside Harper Adams University’s School of Sustainable Food and Farming, the innovative, industry-leading programme will work with farmers to develop the practices they need to make the changes and meet the sustainability challenges required to achieve Net Zero in a holistic way - and inspire other farmers across Britain in the process.

    The details for the Morrisons Sustainable Farm Network were set out at a farmer engagement event at the company’s Skipton store, where farmers who are currently part of the Morrisons supply chain got the first chance to hear more about the plans – and how they could help their farms meet the challenges of driving forward more sustainable farming.

    An initial cohort of more than 70 farmers from across Morrisons supply chain will join the Sustainable Farm Network in its first year, supported by the School of Sustainable Food and Farming and Harper Adams and Map of Ag.

    The Morrisons Sustainable Farm Network will provide expert advice and skills to ensure farmers are fully supported and have access to the latest insight to help them on their journey to a more sustainable future.

    Morrisons is British farming’s biggest direct supermarket customer and works directly with more than 2,700 farmers and growers all year round.

    Director of the School of Sustainable Food and Farming Simon Thelwell said: “Morrisons were a founding partner of the School, and it’s great to be unveiling this innovative and industry-leading programme with them today.

    “At the heart of this programme will be the experience of farmers up and down the UK working day-in, day-out to bring Morrisons customers the fantastic produce they expect.

    “We’re looking forward to being part of a great team equipping farmers with the knowledge they need to understand their carbon footprint and ways to decarbonise – and linking them with the experts and equipment they’ll need throughout that journey.

    “We’ll also identify ways in which they can change their systems – making them both commercially viable and environmentally friendly, boosting wildlife and improving biodiversity.”

    As each farmer joins the programme, they will be asked about their knowledge of six key themes which will be at the heart of the Network’s focus and which each farmer will develop.

    These will be about the key factors which drive any farmer – their soil, water, and animal health and welfare. Questions will also focus on both the markets and motivations for each participant – as well as on the crucial environmental factors of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity.

    Supporting the data integration and analysis element of this programme, Map of Ag’s Technical Director of Sustainability, Hugh Martineau, said: “Engaging farmers in the programme is key to its success. We ensure that the data we collect and analyse can be used to not only support the sustainability of the supply chain but also provide insights and act as a benchmark for farmers to help make their farm business more resilient.”

    As the programme develops, it will have three strategic and interlinked hubs which centre on the research, innovation and technical support needed to help the ideas it germinates to become useful to its participants and the wider industry.

    Working alongside the wider Sustainable Farm Network, the Morrisons Network will become an industry exemplar through drawing on this on-farm experience, commercial practice and academic research.

    Harper Adams Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Lee, said: “The Sustainable Farm Network, being led by the School of Sustainable Food and Farming, draws on the 36 land-based academic institutions which are part of Landex – linking existing networks into a wider framework, where farmers working towards sustainable practices and Net Zero can share their successes and collaborate with one another.

    “At Harper Adams, we’ll be linking the Morrisons network to our students and research at both undergraduate and postgraduate level – allowing the farmers of the future to learn from those feeding Britain today.”

    Technical and Sustainability Director - Manufacturing at Morrisons, Sophie Throup, said: “Farmers across our supply chain are already doing a lot of great work in driving forward more sustainable practices.

    “By launching the Morrisons Sustainable Farm Network, we’re hoping to link them up to industry specialists, academic expertise and crucially, other farmers.

    “Participating farms will be leading examples of the ways in which we can hone our practices as we transition towards a more sustainable future – not only for other suppliers in the Morrisons supply chain, but also for our food and farming sector as a whole.”

    Morrisons will also be launching a new incentives programme for farmers working towards Net Zero sustainable farming, which will include Morrisons shopping vouchers for reaching different milestones on the programme.

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