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Britains largest farmer flies the flag for environmental stewardship


The Co-operative Farms, Britains largest farmer, was today flying the flag for environmental stewardship as it extended its commitment to the Entry Level Scheme (ELS), which supports farmers in making environmental improvements to their land.

The Co-operative Farms has seen measurable results from the work it has done on its farms as part of ELS, which has included reducing pesticide use and leaving land uncultivated to provide food and habitats for wildlife such as butterflies, bees and birds. The Co-operative Farms has signed up to the scheme with Natural England for a further five years, increasing the amount of land in agreements on farms it manages to over 6,500 hectares.

Britains largest farmer announced it was re-joining ELS as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Jim Paice, paid a visit to its Coldham Farm on Friday 29 October.

Whilst there, Mr Paice said: This is great news for the countryside, the farming industry and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. In renewing their ELS agreements, the Co-operative Farms are demonstrating their commitment to sustainable farming, protecting the environment and are to be commended for setting a great example for the agricultural industry.

  • The Co-operative Group stands apart from other major retailers in the UK as a business, which is owned, not by a small group of shareholders, but by more than five million consumers. With core interests in food, financial services, travel, pharmacy, funerals and farms, it has an annual turnover of 14 billion, employs 123,000 staff and operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets handling 21 million weekly transactions.

  • Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food is the fifth largest food retailer. The Co-operative Financial Services is one of the largest and most diversified financial mutual businesses, operating The Co-operative Bank, The Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.

  • The Co-operative is the UKs number one provider of funeral services, the third largest retail pharmacy chain and a leading travel retailer, supplying the travel needs of more than three million people annually.

  • Among its other businesses are The Co-operative Motor Group, The Co-operative Electrical and The Co-operative Legal Services.

  • The Co-operative has a long agricultural heritage and has farmed land across the UK since 1896, when the Group bought its first farm to grow potatoes for Co-operative food stores. The Grown by us range is food and drink either grown by The Co-operative Farms, or made using ingredients grown by the business. Caring for the environment and growing good quality produce remain at the heart of what The Co-operative Farms does.

  • The Co-operative Farms manages more than 50,000 acres of land, which it owns or farms on behalf of other landowners, from the north of Scotland to southern England.

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