Virgin Money offers lower-cost loans to help farmers get to net zero

Virgin Money has launched a new £200million fund to support farmers’ transition to net zero, offering lower-cost loans that can be used to invest in changes that reduce emissions.

According to the bank, the Agri E Fund is the first fund offered in the UK dedicated to supporting farmers with the investments and carbon audits needed to help them achieve net zero.

Loans are available with a 0% arrangement fee when a farmer completes a carbon audit and borrows over £50,000 to invest in emissions reduction initiatives.

These can be renewable energy, energy efficiency initiatives or activities that reduce greenhouse gases.

In a Virgin Money survey of its farming customers, 72% said they wanted to see specialist banking products geared towards sustainability, and 82% said reducing climate emissions was important to improving their sustainability.

It also revealed that the market is helping to accelerate the pace of change, with almost a quarter (22%) of farms saying they have been asked by their own customers to provide evidence of their actions to reduce carbon emissions.

The Agri E Fund also encourages the adoption of carbon audits, which are becoming increasingly important in the agricultural supply chain, by making their completion a loan condition.

A carbon audit produces a comprehensive report on a farm’s carbon emissions, highlighting the farm’s inefficiencies and ways to do things differently, both to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions.

According to the bank’s survey, just over a third (35%) of agricultural businesses have carried out a carbon assessment.

Brian Richardson, head of agriculture at Virgin Money, said: “Our new Agri E fund provides targeted support to help agribusinesses make the transition and enable investments in reducing and capturing carbon emissions.

“We have a long history of supporting the sector during times of change and are committed to working closely with our farmer customers to help them on their journey to net zero.”

Virgin Money has also partnered with Carbon Metrics, a consultancy that aims to help farms more easily understand emissions management and auditing.

James V. Hayes