Virgin Money has today (Wednesday, June 1) launched a new £200 million fund to support farmers in their transition to net zero, by offering lower-cost loans that can be used to invest in changes which reduce on-farm emissions.

The Agri E Fund is the first fund offered in the UK dedicated to supporting farmers with the investment and carbon audits required to help them achieve their net-zero target, Virgin Money has said.

Loans are available with 0% arrangement fees when a farmer completes a carbon audit and is borrowing over £50,000 to invest in emission-reducing initiatives, like renewable energy, energy efficiency initiatives or activities that reduce greenhouse gases.

This fund comes on the back of a survey of 297 Virgin Money agriculture customers in February 2022, where 72% of respondents said they wanted to see specialist banking products tailored towards sustainability; 82% said that reducing climate emissions was important to imporving their sustainability; and 22% of farming businesses said they had been asked by customers to provide evidence of their actions to reduce carbon emissions.

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

Brian Richardson, head of agriculture at Virgin Money said: “Farmers need to be proactive in adjusting their businesses to a low-carbon future.

“While many farmers are working towards their net zero targets, we know from our research that there are many who know what they’ve got to do – they just aren’t sure how to go about it.

Brian Richardson

“By providing lower-cost finance, our new Agri E Fund is providing targeted support to help agri-businesses make the transition and enable investment in reducing and capturing carbon emissions.

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

Virgin Money has also partnered with Carbon Metric and put together a guide to help farmers understand and plan their journey towards net zero.

The purpose of this report is to help farmers understand the background to climate change, specifically relating to agriculture.

“We’ll go through what it means for the industry, as well as how farmers can adapt to meet the challenges, and plan their own journey towards net zero,” said Richardson.