Thursday, 16 May 2024 11:25

Farmers investing in sustainability - Westpac

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Westpac NZ head of agribusiness, Tim Henshaw. Westpac NZ head of agribusiness, Tim Henshaw.

New Zealand farmers are committed to making their businesses more resilient to climate change and are embracing innovation to help them do so.

That’s according to trends in Westpac NZ’s Sustainable Farm Loan data. 

Westpac head of agribusiness Tim Henshaw, says customers of the bank’s Sustainable Farm Loan are required to share information on what they’re doing to make their operations more sustainable, and some clear themes were emerging.   

 “We’ve seen a number of extreme weather events impact farmers over the past few years, so it’s not surprising that our data shows customers are prioritising investment in flood and drought mitigation,” Henshaw says. 

 “In addition, though, we’re seeing a second key theme of customers focusing on emissions reduction. It's positive to see that farmers are investing in new technologies and being a bit more strategic about farm management – whether that’s planting more efficient crops, choosing renewable energy sources or working to breed stock with higher body weights, we’re seeing a lot of thought going in to help bring emissions numbers down.” 

 Since Westpac introduced its Sustainable Farm Loan in June 2023, more than $2.7bn in lending has been provided to farmers and growers who have committed to meeting the Westpac Sustainable Farm Standard.  

Farmers have two years to meet the Standard’s requirements, which have been designed to complement other farm assurance programmes (thus reducing duplication and reporting commitments for farmers).    

Henshaw says Kiwi ingenuity is coming through strongly in the work the bank’s Agri customers are doing to make their businesses more resilient.  

 “From adapting milking, lambing or calving timing to respond to changing weather patterns, through to actively working to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions, we’re really pleased to see customers thinking creatively about how they can work to future-proof their operations.”  

Henshaw says farm profitability is currently top of mind for many customers, but the pressures of complying with regulations and supply chain requirements are also a key concern.  

 “Customers throughout the country continue to face a multitude of on-farm risks that are impacting them financially. Many of them are aware that they need to invest in sustainability to comply with regulations and supply chain requirements, as well as to future-proof their operations, but funding that investment can be challenging,” Henshaw says.  

 “We’re keen to help with those challenges, which is why our Sustainable Farm Loan provides guidance and discounted lending for all of the farm term debt of customers who have committed to improving their sustainability.  

 “We’re also continuing to work hard to provide our customers with research and other insights – to help them understand the opportunities and risks stemming from climate change, and to support them to transition to more resilient operations. 

 “It's great to see clear data coming through showing many NZ farmers and growers are taking tangible steps to improve the sustainability of their businesses and we’ll continue to support innovation in this space.”

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