Posted 24 April 2014
"It was a great opportunity to meet the Secretary of State and discuss some of the challenges facing the agricultural industry. We were keen to understand what the government is doing to support both young and more experienced farmers."
Three Harper Adams students have taken part in a round-table discussion with Environment Secretary Owen Paterson as part of their sandwich-year work placements with McDonald’s.
Catherine Bennett, 21, from, Meifod, Powys is currently employed within the McDonald’s agriculture team. Fellow third-year-students Niall Morrow, 21, from Belfast, and Lindsay Carnell, 23, from Clevedon, Somerset, are on the McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmers programme.
All three took part in a 30-minute Q&A with Mr Paterson at the head office of OSI Food Solutions, which has provided McDonald’s with 100% beef burgers for almost 40 years.
Catherine said: "It was a great opportunity to meet the Secretary of State and discuss some of the challenges facing the agricultural industry. We were keen to understand what the government is doing to support both young and more experienced farmers."
The Secretary of State said: “British farmers produce some of the best quality food in the world and it’s good to see companies like McDonald’s supporting the industry. The food and farming sector contributed a staggering £97.1 billion to the UK economy in 2012, employing nearly four million people. It’s the largest manufacturing sector we have.
“I want the industry’s future to be a vibrant one and helping support new entrants to get the skills and experience they need is one of my top priorities. That’s why I’m working hard with partners across the food and farming sector to provide more funding for young farmers, establish new courses and improve apprenticeship schemes.”
Through the McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmer programme, now in its third year, each student is mentored by a progressive farmer and is offered first-hand experience of practical farming and business management as well as a unique opportunity to trace the entire supply chain of McDonald’s ingredients from farms and abattoirs to the restaurant front counter.
Niall said: “To succeed today, it’s important for young people not only to gain practical farming skills, but also technical and business knowledge. What appealed to me about this programme is the opportunity to see the entire supply chain and learn from experts across different parts of the industry. This has given me a much better understanding of why what we do on-farm is so important. It will make all the difference when I start looking to set up my own business.”
The Progressive Young Farmer programme is part of Farm Forward, McDonald’s long-term commitment to help secure a sustainable future for British and Irish Farming.