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NatWest partners with Cefetra to support farmers in adopting more sustainable practices

31/01/2024
James Neilson (Cefetra Head of Supply Chain) at the Cefetra Ecosystem Services launch

AGRICULTURAL market leader Cefetra has launched a new partnership with leading bank NatWest to reduce the financial barriers for farmers transitioning to more sustainable agricultural practices.

Through its asset finance arm Lombard, NatWest will provide critical financial assistance to farmers in the Cefetra supply chain under the innovative Cefetra Ecosystem Services programme, which was recently launched to provide farm owners with a greater return on green practices.

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In recognition of the upfront investment needed by farmers to move to sustainable farming, the new NatWest collaboration aims to alleviate the financial burdens associated with acquiring new equipment and implementing advanced sustainability practices. 

Through Lombard, NatWest will be offering a unique initiative in the UK under which the bank will offer additional financial support to Cefetra Ecosystem farmers to make the essential changes more accessible and viable.

In the push to tackle climate change Cefetra Ecosystem Services was launched by Cefetra, a group of leading companies and brands in the animal nutrition and food and drink ingredient industries, to be the bridge between their customers tasked with sourcing sustainable suppliers and farmers wanting financial returns on sustainable farming practices.

James Neilson, Cefetra’s Head of Supply Chain, said the NatWest collaboration would be tailored to the unique needs and opportunities within the Cefetra supply base. 

James said: “We are delighted to launch this partnership with NatWest as we recognise that moving towards regenerative agriculture is a significant step that often comes with financial challenges so our strategy can ease these economic burdens.

“In line with our mission to bridge the gap between consumer demand for sustainability and on-the-ground farming practices, this partnership is a key step towards empowering farmers.

“We are enabling them to adopt regenerative practices that are essential not only for soil health but also for ensuring long-term resilience and productivity in their farming operations.

“NatWest’s support extends beyond mere financing as it represents a vote of confidence in the sustainable future we are building and is testament to our shared belief that economic growth and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand.”

Ian Burrow, Head of Agriculture at NatWest, said: “The current challenges posed by an increasingly unpredictable climate mean the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices has never been more critical for the resilience of the farming industry. 

“Working with Cefetra, NatWest is helping farming continue to be synonymous with environmental responsibility and economic sustainability.

“By building on the progress already made through the Cefetra Ecosystem Services programme, we look forward to forming a partnership which makes a meaningful difference not only to farmers but also to the wider society. As one of the UK’s largest banks for Agriculture, we will continue to stand by farmers and work closely with influential partners, like Cefetra, to help drive change across the industry.”

This partnership builds on the bank’s strong commitment to the agricultural sector. NatWest Group has previously confirmed an additional £1.25 billion lending package for farmers, taking its total lending capacity to the agricultural sector to £6.7 billion. This lending package supports the industry to deal with a variety of cost pressures, and aids farmers in making the transition to more sustainable practices.

Announced in November, Cefetra Ecosystem Services is the first initiative to set high standards for climate positive supply chains and reward growers for adopting sustainable farming practices and is already available for UK 2024 crops.

Through practical advice backed with documented sustainability standards for Cereals, Cefetra will ensure benefits are provided to all supply chain partners by applying established methodologies to build trust from farmers and customers with a carbon programme compliant with Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) guidance, guaranteeing credibility.

In collaboration with agronomy firm Soil Capital, Cefetra Ecosystem Services offers a toolkit of products and services based on each farm’s data plus courses of action. Consumers receive sustainable credentials, strengthening the appeal of Cefetra’s reduced impact grains to meet buyer ESG goals.

Shona Robison, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance for Scotland, attended the Cefetra Ecosystem Services launch at Cefetra’s Ormiston Grain Storage Facility in Scotland, meeting with Cefetra Ltd CEO Andrew Mackay as well as Scottish farmers taking part in the scheme, independent agronomists, the Agricultural Industries Confederation, Cefetra customers and initiative partners.

In addition to the launch of Cefetra Ecosystem Services, the company has shown its commitment to sustainable activities by achieving ISO14001 in recognition of its work to manage environmental responsibilities. The company has also recently maintained gold accreditation status from international sustainability accreditation company EcoVadis. 

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