Posted 23 March 2012
Two Harper Adams students are set to be among the first to benefit from the newly-launched McDonalds Farm Forward scheme.
McDonald's this week launched its 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. Harper Adams students Chris Fox and Christina Ford have been chosen to take part in the scheme, starting this summer.
Terry Pickthall, Placement Manager at Harper Adams University College said: "The placement represents best practice in offering agricultural students the chance to gain hands-on practical skills and commercial nous. This is a unique opportunity for young people starting their careers to work across McDonald's entire supply chain, from the farm through to the restaurant counter.
"Through this programme, McDonald's is playing its part in equipping the next generation of farmers with the knowledge and experience they need to succeed in a dynamic Agri-Food sector, and the insight these students will gain will be invaluable as they look to start their careers as farm managers and agricultural professionals."
Chris Fox, a second year agriculture student, is set to work in the beef side of the business and Christine Ford, second year bio veterinary science, in pork.
In addition to the work placements, 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.
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 we can maintain great value for money for customers but also look at how we can progressively improve the food from a welfare and environmental perspective."