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Browne Jacobson advise dairy co-op First Milk on its investment in soil carbon company Agricarbon

25 August 2021

Browne Jacobson’s North West based corporate team, led by partner Peter Allen, has advised British farmer-owned dairy co-operative First Milk on its strategic investment into soil carbon measurement company, Agricarbon.

Dundee based start-up business Agricarbon was set up by Scottish farming entrepreneur, Stewart Arbuckle; data services entrepreneur and decarbonisation expert, Annie Leeson and technology commercialisation expert, Alan Strong. The business aims to support the reduction of CO2 in the agricultural industry through its unique service which helps its global customer base scientifically quantify its soil carbon stock. Agricarbon has already been working in partnership with First Milk and Nestlé on a pioneering large-scale soil carbon capture project using state of the art machinery to run an intensive soil carbon analysis.

First Milk is a British farmer-owned co-operative with a vision to create value for members by delivering long-term dairy prosperity in the form of success, profitability, security and well-being. It produces a variety of popular tasting cheeses that are distributed to over 26 countries across the globe and provides high quality fresh milk to a range of UK based dairy manufacturers and processors. The business recently launched its First4Milk sustainability programme which underpins its commitment to supporting initiatives that focus on people, animals and the Earth.

The investment by First Milk will accelerate the expansion plans of Agricarbon and allow the business to further develop its offering to make it more affordable and accessible to the wider farming and land business industries. It will also bolster First Milk’s position as a leader in sustainability within the dairy industry.

The Browne Jacobson team comprised Manchester based corporate partner Peter Allen, senior associate Ryan Brown and associate Bethany Pickup, supported by expert input from the Browne Jacobson employment and IP teams.

Shelagh Hancock, First Milk Chief Executive commented: “As part of our First4Milk sustainability programme we have committed to achieving net zero by 2040 at the latest and to sequestering an additional 100,000 tonnes of carbon per year through the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices by our members. Having robust, scientifically validated data to establish an accurate soil carbon baseline, and monitor future changes, is essential to the delivery of this strategy and by working with Agricarbon we are already leading the way globally in this area.

Our investment in Agricarbon will help it scale faster, allowing it to rapidly accelerate its ambitious growth plans. It will also further strengthen our position in dairy sustainability, helping us to demonstrate that our dairy farmer members can be part of the solution to the climate crisis through good soil management.”

Peter Allen, Partner at Browne Jacobson added: “This is a fantastic investment for First Milk and is a significant step towards the First Milk business fulfilling its net zero pledge. It reflects a growing focus across all industries, including us in the legal sector, to address issues of sustainability in our own businesses. We were delighted to act for long standing client First Milk in achieving this step and look forward to seeing the great things which the team at Agricarbon can achieve with the support of First Milk and other investors in the future.”

Stuart Donald, Corporate Development Director, First Milk said: “We are delighted to have completed this investment and to be supporting Stewart, Annie, Alan and the team at Agricarbon. Peter and the Browne Jacobson team were supportive, proactive and responsive throughout the process to help deliver this project for us, providing valuable legal advice but also commercial input where needed, utilising their experience in dealing with investments of this type.”

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