Two thirds of UK farmers planning green investment

22 November 2018

New research commissioned by McDonald’s UK reveals that an overwhelming number of farmers have measures in place to drive environmental improvements on their farms.

As part of their Farmers Forward barometer, an ongoing research programme, McDonald’s has conducted the survey to bring to light the environmental challenges farmers are facing, in order to work alongside their suppliers and experts to tackle these critical issues.

The research, conducted by the National Farm Research Unit, shows that 98% of farmers are committed to taking action to improve environmental standards. A further 62% of farmers are planning to make further green investment in the coming year.

More than half of farmers (53%) were driven to take action on the environment due to a sense of personal responsibility, believing that it is the right thing to do, while a third (31%) said they were responding to increased customer demand for sustainably sourced products.

When asked about their top priorities, improving soil management and preserving the countryside (84%) were currently the most pressing environmental issues for farmers, with better water management and health (70%) also a concern.

Despite the overwhelming majority of farmers committing to improving environmental standards, this does not come without challenges, with 79% citing high production costs as the largest obstacle, as well as finding viable alternative farming methods (68%) and raising the money to be able to make environmental improvements (60%).

Andrew Francis, farm manager at Elveden Farm Estate, a potato supplier to McDonald’s UK, believes that food should be grown responsibly and farmers should consider how to make environmental improvements.

He said: “For example, we take action to preserve habitats for rare species by managing field corners and headlands to enhance habitat, and monitor inputs like fertiliser to produce our crop as efficiently as possible. As an industry, we need to take a cross sector approach to evaluate our impact and address concerns together.”

Francis believes that technology may be the solution to the challenges farmers are facing when it comes to the environment with soil testing equipment, satellite technology and self-driving tractors all offering potential solutions.  

Pete Garbutt, agriculture manager for McDonald’s UK, said: “We want to use our scale for good, to minimise our impact on the environment and help the farmers who supply us to do the same.

“We’ve done this over many years, from working with the beef industry to reduce carbon emissions, to planting trees across the farms that supply our free-range eggs.

“The findings of this research bring to light a number of environmental challenges, which we will work on with our suppliers and experts to consider how we can help farmers tackle these critical issues.”

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