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

23/02/2024
Murray Forsyth

INVERURIE Beef Farmer, Murray Forsyth, is one of seven farm enterprises 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.

M&S is the only national retailer that can trace 100% of its beef back to the farm and animal it came from. Murray, who has been supplying M&S beef for more than 60 years through Scotbeef from his 1000-acre mixed farm, says sustainability has been a core component of managing his farm since he took the reins from his father, just over ten years ago.

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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 Farm of the Future will seek ways to rapidly decarbonise and maximise wildlife and habitat creation and will also provide the opportunity to identify where system change may be required, all within the context of continuing to produce the high-quality food that M&S is known for.

Beef Farmer, Murray Forsyth, commented:“Our cattle output has increased fourfold over the last decade, which has been key in making the farm more efficient. In turn, this has made us more sustainable from a business point of view, although I am acutely aware of the environmental sustainability challenge and the increasing demand for it from consumers, so this needs to be addressed.

“This is why I decided to apply for the Farm of the Future Programme. I think creating change that results in more sustainable produce only gains traction when the supply chain works together. I would like to glean expertise from both M&S and Harper Adams to see what we can do, to create solutions that are not only sustainable from an environmental point of view, but also in an economic sense.”

Murray has been involved in various pilots and sustainability groups for over six years, and so has accumulated a wealth of experience and data that he hopes to develop further through the Farm of the Future Programme.

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

“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 Murray 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.”

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