One of the UK’s largest co-operative’s has launched a financial reward scheme for its farmers in its beef supply chain for sustainable farming practices.

The beef sustainability pilot scheme launched by the Co-op convenience retailer in partnership with its supplier Dunbia aims to decarbonise its supply chain and see farmers rewarded for reducing their impact on the environment.

The two-year programme will enable the Co-op, which has 2600 stores and an £11 billion annual turnover, to monitor the impact of integrating sustainable farming practices within its beef supply base. It will also help to provide accurate emissions data and will inform actions on an integral part of Co-op plans to achieve net zero by 2040.

Farmers in the pilot group, representing around 10% of the Co-op’s beef supply chain, will be supported throughout the programme and have access to the emissions reduction plan. They will also receive a sustainability dividend linked to the level of reductions achieved over the course of the programme.

Financial rewards depending on the level of reduced emissions will be paid at the end of the year on up to 6-12p per deadweight kg premium on the number of cattle submitted.

Joseph Keating, the Co-op’s agriculture manager, said: “Recognising and rewarding farmers who are leading the way and making positive changes to reduce their carbon footprint is important in developing a more resilient and sustainable agriculture industry, so we’re thrilled to announce our new beef sustainability pilot at Co-op alongside Dunbia.

“As a responsible retailer, we continue to lead on the issues that matter most to our member owners and customers, and supporting British farmers on their collective sustainability journey is at the very heart of this. We know that by investing in British agriculture we are investing in the UK economy, supporting farming communities, and meeting our members’ concerns for food provenance.”

Farmers will look to integrate different farming practices to lower carbon emissions and as each farm is different, farmers will implement the options that have been recommended as part of their individual emissions reduction plan.

Throughout the programme, Dunbia will share knowledge and best practice, raise awareness, and offer support to farmers seeking to reduce their on-farm emissions. Once completed, the results of the pilot will be used to help shape future sustainability plans at the Co-op.