Harper Adams University, Morrisons, McDonald’s and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) have officially launched the UK’s first School of Sustainable Food and Farming (SSFF).
The SSFF will lead in developing new sustainable farming methods to help British agriculture achieve its net zero goal. Its courses will be provided from the Shropshire University and designed using its work on sustainable farming and food production, in unique collaboration with supermarket giant Morrisons, McDonald’s UK and Ireland, and the National Farmers’ Union.
It will bring together all of the latest thinking and learning on farming using sustainable methods.
Virtual courses will cover a wide range of topics including carbon sequestration, the potential of green energy production on farms – including anaerobic digestion plants, and understanding the value of carbon. In addition, on-the-farm learning with university tutors will take place – to offer real-world practice.
Courses will be developed and run by the UK’s leading experts in agronomy, veterinary practice and nutrition.
Learning opportunties will include; undergraduate courses to train new sustainable farmers; short courses and apprenticeships to upskill the current farming workforce; and research posts. The school will also act as a hub for sharing the latest thinking and learning on sustainable farming, and will be involved in policy engagement – to ensure the farming sector gets the support and advice it needs.
Professor Michael Lee, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Harper Adams University, said: “The way Britain – and the world – farms is changing, and the future is upon us.
“We need to recognise that, and to understand that the future sustainable production of our food is critical.
“It is time for modern agricultural institutions to develop the systems we need to support this production for the twenty-first century – such as this school, which brings together the expertise we have at Harper Adams with the experience of industry, wherever it is needed in the country.
“What we are doing here is pioneering, and it will help the UK to lead the world in agricultural thinking and practice.”
Minette Batters, president of the NFU, added: “A transformation is needed globally to boost sustainable food production and ensure that we can continue to feed a growing population while doing our bit for the planet.
“In Britain farmers have an ambition to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and the School of Sustainable Food and Farming will help us get there. It will help our farmers – both established and new – take on the role of world leaders in climate-friendly food production, paving the way for farming across the world in a sustainable and beneficial way.”
McDonald’s UK and Ireland recently launched its Plan for Change – a comprehensive business and sustainability strategy to help it achieve its aim of net zero emissions across its entire business by 2040. The plan sets out ambitious goals and actions across its four key areas – Planet, People, Restaurants and Food – to ensure the business leads positive change from farms to front counter.
Harriet Wilson, Agriculture and Sustainable Sourcing Manager at McDonald’s UK & Ireland, added: “We all have a role to play when it comes to tackling climate change, and we are at a moment where we need to work even harder to look after the planet. Therefore we’re really proud to be partnering on this innovative School of Sustainable Food and Farming, which will help us to better understand and implement sustainable farming methods that can be used by the British and Irish farmers that produce the quality ingredients for our restaurants, as well as the farming industry as a whole.”
Morrisons has pledged to become the first supermarket to be completely supplied by ‘zero emission’ British farms by 2030 – five years ahead of the industry.
Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons, said: “We need to revolutionise our food production and what we’re doing today is unique.
“It’s the first time the NFU, restaurants, supermarkets and universities have come together to act with one voice for the greater good.
“We have supported the development of this school both for our own farmers – but also for the nation’s farmers.
“It will play an important part in helping all of Morrisons farmers to get to Net Zero Agri by 2030, but Morrisons also wanted to help create a legacy for all of UK farming.”