NFU President addresses sugar industry at ISO conference

Environment and climate
A photo of NFU President Minette Batters addressing the audience on stage at the ISO conference.

Net zero outcomes and supply chain incentivisation were key themes of NFU President Minette Batters' keynote speech at this year's ISO (International Sugar Organisation) seminar in London. Find out more about her address to key players in the sugar industry. 

Opening her speech, Minette spoke about how farmers have a vested interest in being at the forefront of climate change, with their businesses experiencing its consequences more than most.

She emphasised that net zero outcomes must be consistent across industry, the supply chain and Government, and that policymakers worldwide must work together to understand that both food production and environmental protection are “two sides of the same coin and cannot be viewed in isolation of each other”.

No ‘one size fits all’ approach

On the subject of working together with the wider industry, Minette shared how farmers have been inundated with reports that dictate their actions around climate–friendly farming, saying that “top–down, template definition definitions of sustainable farming do not work”.

She shared how it would be best for farming industry to be given a variety of incentivised methods to achieve the same common outcome on sustainable farming, acknowledging that what works for some farmers, does not work for all.

She said that if the sugar sector embraced this approach, it would lead to “engaged farmers, willing to participate, and go above and beyond to delivering this vision”, calling on supply chain partners to support this idea.

Minette also discussed the current ongoing negotiations with British Sugar – the latest progress updates can be read at: 2024/25 Sugar beet negotiation: Latest news.

Calls for incentivisation

On the topic of incentivisation, Minette told the seminar audience that if the supply chain would like farmers to help deliver on net zero commitments, then it must provide incentives to encourage farmers to do that.

She called for consistency in incentivisation across the sugar supply chain, saying it is “essential” that “the supply chain passes the value to farmers”.

She said: “If the value generated by an action is passed to the business that carried it out, there will be a strong incentive for everyone in the supply chain to deliver net zero food production.”

“It is essential we create a set of incentives within the supply chain that makes net zero sugar production economically viable and offers opportunities to all, including the millions of sugar farmers worldwide.”

Minette also called for companies in the sugar supply chain to ensure that all growers of low–carbon sugar are recognised for their efforts, particularly if they have grown low carbon sugar before any incentives are introduced.

No easy path towards net zero 

Ending her keynote speech, Minette highlighted that food security is non-negotiable, with simple pathway towards achieving net zero goals.

She said: “We cannot simply take the easy way out and emit nothing by producing nothing.

“With that in mind, the focus must be on incentivising farmers to deliver environmental outcomes and reduce emissions without reducing food production.”

Minette Batters’ full speech from the ISO conference can be read at: 32nd ISO International Seminar 2023 – Minette Batters speech

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