Morrisons has announced plans to make 100% of its British farming supply base zero carbon by 2030.
The UK supermarket said it would work with 3,000 farmers and growers over the next nine years to put in place measures to reduce and offset emissions.
Starting with meat and produce farmers, Morrisons will look into emissions created through the whole lifecycle of farm produce, “from germination to leaving the farmgate for a Morrisons store”, to establish a model that can be shared with all its farmers.
It aims to produce eggs in a “net zero carbon way” by 2022, followed by lamb, fruit, vegetables, pork and beef.
Morrisons’ “farm models” will look at reducing carbon through rearing different animal breeds, using low food-mile feedstuffs, renewable energy and low emission housing, as well as cutting down fuel and fertiliser use.
As beef farming is the most carbon intensive due to methane produced by cattle, the supermarket will work with beef farms to use smaller cattle breeds, pick low methane feeds, and look at methane-reducing supplements such as seaweed.
It will also offset carbon emissions by planting grassland and clover, restoring peatland, improving soil health and planting new trees.
As part of the programme Morrisons will work with universities, carbon experts, and farming trade bodies, such as the NFU and Nature England, to collect farmer knowledge, assess planting and water use, and set up the world’s first School of Sustainable Farming.
According to the supermarket, UK agriculture currently accounts for 10% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions.
David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said: “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.”
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers' Union, said: “British farming has 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.”
George Eustice, environment secretary, said: “The UK is the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050. Our farmers will play a key role in achieving this. 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.”
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