A £200m fund has been launched by Virgin Money to support farmers as they invest in solutions that will help reduce harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Loans available through the Agri E Fund come with 0% arrangement fees, providing a carbon audit is taken of the farm(s) in question and over £50k is burrowed to invest in emission reducing initiatives such as renewables or energy efficiency systems.
In addition to producing our food, the agricultural sector is seen as vital in the fight against climate change, given the resources at its’ disposal, such as land that can be used to capture and store carbon, appropriate locations or rooftops for renewable energy systems and suitable feedstocks for bioenergy. The sector also has a target, set by the NFU, to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2040.
In a recent survey, Virgin Money found that 72% of its’ agricultural customers want to see certain banking products specifically tailored towards sustainability, with 82% highlighting the reduction of emissions as important in their sustainability plans. Just under a quarter (22%) of the farming businesses surveyed said their own customers have asked for proof of actions taken to address emissions.
The survey also found that only 35% of farming businesses have, to date, completed a carbon audit – seen as an essential first step in the management of emissions – which has led to such audits being a condition of the loans.
Brian Richardson, Head of Agriculture at Virgin Money (picture left) said:
“Farmers need to be proactive in adjusting their businesses to a low carbon future. While many farmers are working towards their net zero targets, we know from our research that there are many who know what they’ve got to do, they just aren’t sure how to go about it. By providing lower cost finance, our new Agri E Fund is providing targeted support to help agri-businesses make the transition and enable investment in reducing and capturing carbon emissions.”
Virgin Money has also partnered with Carbon Metrics, a consultancy focused on the management of emissions, to produce a report on the achievement of net zero in agriculture, including guidance on measures that can be implemented on farms to tackle GHG emissions.