Sainsbury’s is investing £1m to kick start the next wave of improvements to British farming.
This grant will encourage Sainsbury’s farmers and suppliers to “adopt existing leading-edge technologies as well as being a catalyst for new innovations by research institutions” at a time when UK farmers are facing increasing challenges from this year’s adverse weather, with the associated threat of disease and rising commodity prices.
Applications for the granted opened on 1 October and close on 21 November, with successful applicants announced at Sainsbury’s farmer conference on 7 December. In particular, applications will be invited from the 2,500 farmers who are members of Sainsbury’s development groups.
The awards will be made against three priorities
1. Improvement in animal health and welfare
2. Improvement in efficiencies and cost effectiveness
3. Development of new products or processes which help to improve quality, taste and freshness.
Sainsbury’s farmer development groups have brought together 2,500 farmers in 10 producer groups by agricultural areas (dairy, beef, pork, lamb, veal, eggs, chicken, cheese, wheat, and produce).
Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King said: “In recent years the pace of agricultural innovation has slowed at a time when it needs to accelerate. British farmers are under pressure from rising costs, the impacts of climate change and water security as well as competition from around the world.
“Our customers want to buy high quality, fresh British food and we have committed to double the amount of British food we sell by 2020 as part of our stretching 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan. The challenge is to work more closely with British farmers to produce high-quality, seasonal and local food.
“Our development groups have already shown that a more data driven, scientific approach to farming really pays off across quality, environment and animal welfare.
“Our famers have made great progress over the last few years using this approach. Now these grants continue our support to a vital industry that we have always championed, with the aim of extending this further and faster.”