MacDonald’s project to back UK and Irish farms

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Ubiquitous restaurant chain, McDonald’s, which buys £320 million worth of produce from British farmers every year, yesterday launched a long-term programme to support British and Irish farming.

With an initial first-year investment of £1m, the company’s Farm Forward initiative will support a pioneering training programme for young farmers, give 200 farmer suppliers a simple carbon calculator to measure their carbon emissions and fund new research to encourage improvements in animal welfare.

“We know the farming industry faces challenging issues and as a big customer of British and Irish farming, we want to do more to support the industry,” said supply chain vice-president, Brian Mullens.

“Farm Forward is our commitment to help ensure the sustainable future of farming.”

Mullens told The Scotsman that, with the average age of British farmers nearing 60, the company was keen to ensure the sustainability of their supply chain by providing opportunities for young farmers to come into the industry.

Agricultural students – but not from Scottish colleges in the first year – will be given a 12 month placement to gain experience through the entire supply chain, including working in a McDonald’s restaurant.

“This training programme will provide aspiring young farmers with the blend of farming and business skills needed to succeed in today’s farming sector,” said Mullens.

The initiative has been welcomed by the UK farm minister, Caroline Spelman, who said there were more opportunities than ever for British farmers with rising global demand for food.

“It is vital farmers of the future are fully equipped to make the most of these opportunities in a sustainable way,” she said.

“I applaud the support Farm Forward is offering students interested in becoming farmers and the contribution this will make to securing the future of our farming industry.”

McDonald’s serves around 2.5 million meals a day in the UK and sources all its beef, pork, milk and eggs from British and Irish farmers.