The money will help both conventional and organic dairy farmers pay for agricultural infrastructure and equipment, including bedding dispensers, weighing facilities, cow mattresses and cattle handing facilities.
The £273k backing falls under McDonald’s ‘Farm Forward’ capital grant scheme, which aims to support British and Irish farming in the long-term.
“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,” said McDonald’s UK then SVP, supply chain, Brian Mullens, when the initiative launched in 2012.
The long-term project is built around five core commitments covering: quality of ingredients; animal welfare standards; creating work and training opportunities for young farmers; environmental and efficiency standards; and knowledge sharing.
Farmer-owned dairy cooperative, Arla Foods, which supplies organic milk to the fast food giant, will receive significant investment under Farm Forward’s most recent grant.
Arla foods farmer Mark Horbuckle, for example, who runs an organic dairy farm in Nottinghamshire, will receive £8,010 in the latest grant allocations. Horbuckle plans to invest the grant money in calf jackets, rubber matting and water troughs.
For both supplier and customer, the scheme represents a commitment to the “farmer community”.
“In making funding available to our farmer owners in key areas such as animal welfare, economic benefit and environmental improvements, it shows that a collaborative supply chain drives forward industry leading standards for UK Dairy farming and I’m very proud that Arla’s farmer owners are leading the way on this,” said Arla Foods UK agricultural director Graham Wilkinson.
Likewise, McDonald’s UK & Ireland agriculture consultant for sustainable sourcing, Alice Willett, voiced her support for Arla’s cooperative community.
“We’re constantly impressed with how ambitious Arla farmers are in driving forward standards,” she said.
“Whilst Arla supplies organic milk to McDonald’s, we recognise that as a supplier working with a farmer owned co-operative we have an opportunity to help the wider group farmers continually invest in their businesses and this scheme is a reflection of that.”
The investment follows Arla Foods’ announcement that it would pay out its full net profit for 2018 to farmers, to help compensate for slowed milk production and increased feed prices caused by drought. Per the cooperative’s 2018 end-of-year report, farmers will receive an extra 2.3 euro cents per kilogram of milk they give or sell to Arla this year.