McDonald's launches farming project

McDonald'sMcDonald's has launched a bid to back British and Irish farmers, with efforts to boost the number of young people in the industry and improve environmental and animal welfare standards.
In the first year of the scheme, the fast food chain will invest £1 million in several projects, including a 12-month training placement programme for agricultural students spanning the supply chain from farm to restaurant.
In addition, more than 200 farmers will trial a free simple carbon calculator, developed to help livestock farmers measure their farms' carbon emissions and take steps to reduce the environmental impact and make their businesses more efficient.

The calculator will then be made available to beef farmers across the UK and Ireland next year. The company will also fund new research and innovation to encourage improvements in animal welfare, which can often boost the economic value of livestock and poultry for farmers.

McDonald's now spends £320 million a year buying ingredients from more than 17,500 British and Irish farmers, with 55% of the food served in restaurants here sourced from them.

The company said it was committed to British and Irish farming and its Farm Forward project would involve a series of projects around five pledges: to support domestic produce, improve animal welfare, support young farmers, help the environment and help keep farmers in step with what consumers want.

Brian Mullens, senior vice president, supply chain, McDonald's UK, said: "We know the farming industry faces some challenging issues, and as a big customer of British and Irish farming, we want to do more to support the industry. Farm Forward is our commitment to help ensure the sustainable future of British and Irish farming.

"Supporting the next generation of farmers is vital if we are to secure the future of farming in this country, and our new work programme for young farmers is designed to help them develop the blend of skills and experience that progressive, modern farmers want and need."

He said the company built long-term relationships with farmers, "working with suppliers, not bashing them on price".

And despite McDonald's being a fast food restaurant chain, known for low prices, Mr Mullens said: "The balance for McDonald's is how can we maintain great value for money for customers but also look at how we can progressively improve the food from a welfare and environmental perspective."

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