Farmers are being urged to explore the opportunity of making money on private natural capital markets as Government spending on the coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral.
Guy Thompson, managing director of online collaboration platform Entrade, said Government will be unable to deliver on its environmental objectives using public money alone, particularly after its spending over the past few months.
He also suggested the move away from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and increasingly volatile weather, coupled with the disruption caused by the coronavirus, meant there has never been a better time for farmers to look for a new revenue stream.
Speaking at a Cereals webinar on natural capital this week, he said: “Covid-19 has come and shed new light on the risks to supply chains and what might have previously been considered robust farm diversifications in the tourism economy.
“Now feels like a really important time to look at diversification into environmental markets as a sound, lower risk option to couple with the other aspects of your enterprise.
“It is bread and butter to what you already do as managers of land, and could be the cornerstone of your income.”
Mr Thompson went on to say the revenue of the natural capital market, beyond the value of its environmental benefits, could be worth £500m by 2030, and pointed out every piece of land has the potential to deliver goods and services.
There was some concern from webinar attendee Matthew Barratt that major businesses such as airports or developers would simply buy up land to offset their emissions in-house if the services were priced too highly.
But Emily Norton, head of rural research at Savills, said it should never be cheaper for corporates to buy land because they would not be delivering the full range of goods, including food production, offered by farmers.