Home » Powys farmer joins new M&S ‘Farm of the Future’ initiative to help drive net zero goal
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Powys farmer joins new M&S ‘Farm of the Future’ initiative to help drive net zero goal

Newtown lamb farmer, Gordon Jones, is one of seven farmers from across the UK taking part in a seven-year programme that sees M&S collaborate with suppliers, industry and farmers to deliver rapid decarbonisation of livestock production as part of its Plan A roadmap to net zero by 2040.

Gordon, who supplies lamb to M&S, is a third-generation farmer who runs a 500-acre hill farm which carries a flock of purebred Welsh sheep. In fact, all M&S fresh lamb, from steaks to mince, is 100% British all year round, which is currently all sourced from Wales.

Over the past two decades, Gordon has planted over 30,000 trees and planted hedgerows to establish new woodland and wildlife corridors. However, they have had difficulty obtaining funding for further sustainability-focused projects due to the complexity and restrictions of the schemes on offer. Gordon hopes that by joining the M&S Farm of the Future programme, he will gain a greater understanding of how his farm is performing with regards to sustainability, and where it can improve. 

He is one of seven farming enterprises taking part in the Farm of the Future programme. Working in collaboration with Harper Adams University’s School of Sustainable Food and Farming, the initiative will seek ways to rapidly decarbonise and maximise wildlife and habitat creation. It also aims to provide opportunities to identify where system changes may be required, all within the context of continuing to produce the high-quality food that M&S is renowned for. 

Commenting on the initiative, Gordon Jones says: “We believe we are currently operating at, or close to, net zero and would welcome the opportunity to confirm this and promote what we are doing already, as well as understanding what we could do better. We would like to understand how existing trees and woodland contribute to our aim of being carbon neutral and to understand and be able to record the existing wildlife and habitats on the farm. This will give us a starting point from which to improve our biodiversity,”

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Head of Agriculture & Fisheries at M&S Food, Steve McLean, said:

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“As part of our sustainability action plan ‘Plan A’, we have committed to reducing our carbon footprint to net zero by 2040. Over 70% of the emissions of our food business come from primary agriculture, particularly the livestock and ruminant sectors, so it is clear this needs real focus.

“We recognise the challenges this brings on farm, and the need to continue to produce affordable, high-quality food from sustainable supply chain relationships. We are committed to helping our M&S Select Farmers navigate these challenges, and this new initiative will enable us to support innovative approaches on seven of our M&S Select Farms, with the findings being shared across our whole supply base and the wider industry to help drive real change. 

“We are committed to collaborating with our M&S Select Farmers, our suppliers and with Harper Adams’ School of Sustainable Food and Farming and look forward to working with Gordon to deliver this exciting project. We are confident that this collaborative approach will deliver a step-change in the industry’s approach to decarbonising food production.”