We challenge FT article about 'natural capital' of farmland

09 February 2022

An image of cattle in a Shropshire farmland landscape

We've written to the Financial Times pointing out that an article it published about private companies buying farmland in order to offset carbon emissions failed to discuss the impact this growing trend could have on British farming and domestic food production.

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts wrote a strong challenge in response to the column, Growth potential in the natural capital of farmland, which was written by MoneyWeek editor-in-chief Merryn Somerset Webb. 

You can read what he wrote below:

To the editor,

Your article [Growth potential in the natural capital of farmland] looks at an array of opportunities for British farmland but fails to acknowledge its most important purpose; producing food for the nation.

As a natural store of carbon, agricultural land clearly has a key part to play in reaching the nation’s net zero targets and the carbon market can offer important opportunities for farmers and businesses to work together to offset emissions across the economy.

But this cannot be at the expense of food production. We cannot allow a situation where private companies relentlessly pursue farmland in order to greenwash their emissions but in the process remove family farms from land they have farmed for generations.

British farmers are essential to the nation because, without them, we risk diminishing our own ability to produce food. This means we would become more reliant on food imports, produced to environmental and animal welfare standards that would be illegal here, as well as lacking our net zero ambition.

Land is not an infinite resource. A carbon market must enable land to be shared so farmers can still produce the nation’s food, while also delivering our collective net zero ambitions.

More coverage on this topic

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts featured on Sky News' Daily Climate Show discussing corporate climate responsibility, the increasing issue of greenwashing and what it means for UK agricultural production.

Watch the full interview here:

Stuart has been a regular contributor on the programme. You can watch previous appearances here:

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