Game changer for agribusiness banking



NAB is stepping up its recognition of the benefits of sustainable business practices, incorporating ‘natural values’ into the bank’s policies and procedures.

A recent survey of over 5,000 farming customers found that 74 per cent had made changes to their businesses as a result of natural resource sustainability in the past two to three years.

General Manager of NAB Agribusiness, Khan Horne, said Australian farmers recognise more than anyone that a healthy environment and a healthy business go hand in hand.

“NAB is setting itself apart from our competitors. We are financing initiatives that are focussed on the long term strength and viability of the sector,” Mr Horne said.

“We’re making these investments because we know that farmers who effectively manage their natural capital assets, such as water, soil and energy resources, generally have a more robust and resilient business model. In the long term, they are seeing improved profitability as a result of reduced input costs and/or more consistent yields over time.

The NAB survey found that fruit and vegetable growers are by far the most likely (88 per cent) to have made changes to their businesses as a result of natural resource sustainability issues such as managing water scarcity (66 per cent), soil health (52 per cent), reducing energy costs (49 per cent), minimising runoff (36 per cent) and managing waste (32 per cent).

A significant 77 per cent of crop growers and 76 per cent of livestock producers have made natural capital improvements in their businesses in the past two to three years.

Intentions to make changes in the near future are highest amongst businesses who had already made changes and also businesses in a growth phase. Horticulture businesses were also likely to intend to make changes.

Mr Horne said that NAB is taking a leadership role in encouraging farmers to introduce best practice management.

“We’re working with industry groups and associations to develop systems for measuring and benchmarking the returns to a business from adopting sustainable practices and technologies.

“On a larger scale, it’s not just about backing individual farmers and celebrating their successes. We’re engaging in conversations with our customers about the risks and opportunities that natural value considerations pose for them, which also allows us to better support them in taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.

“NAB was founded as an agricultural bank 155 years ago, and the reality is that we need sustainable agriculture to secure the future of Australian agriculture and ensure we can continue to work with farmers and lead the sector for another 155 years,” Mr Horne said.

NAB was one of two inaugural signatories to the Natural Capital Declaration, a global statement that recognises that natural capital poses significant potential risks and opportunities to the finance sector. To date, NAB is the only Australian bank to sign the declaration.

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