Owen Paterson met with students who are taking part in the McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmer training programme at OSI Food Solutions in Scunthorpe today to discuss the importance of skills and training in farming.
The Secretary of State highlighted the importance of equipping young farmers with the range of progressive business and practical skills needed to succeed in the sector and ultimately help secure the future of British farming during a 30-minute Q&A with three students, who are on a 12-month training programme with McDonald’s.
The minister met with the young farmers on a visit to the head office of OSI Food Solutions, which has provided McDonald’s with 100% beef burgers for almost 40 years. He was given a tour of the production plant by McDonald’s UK’s Supply Chain Director Connor McVeigh and John Gray, Commercial Director Europe, OSI Food Solutions.
McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmer programme, now in its third year, is designed to help young farmers kick-start their careers in the sector. 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.
In the final stage of the training programme, students Niall Morrow, Lindsay Carnell and Lauren Hladun will spend a week working in a McDonald’s restaurant where they have the opportunity to interact with customers and prepare food using ingredients that they have seen grown, reared and harvested.
Owen Paterson, Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 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.
“Initiatives like McDonald’s ‘Progressive Young Farmer training programme’ are an important part of how we can help the industry’s economic prosperity in the long term and ensure its future remains bright.”
Connor McVeigh, Director of Supply Chain, McDonald’s UK, said:
“McDonald’s is one of the biggest customers of British and Irish farming, so we have a responsibility to help more young people break into the sector. For our customers to continue enjoying great-tasting, high quality and responsibly sourced food we need a strong UK farming sector now and in the future. That’s why we will continue to invest in initiatives such as our Progressive Young Farmer programme and equip young farmers with the range of skills they need to succeed in the sector.”
Niall Morrow, one of McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmers, commented:
“Farming is a technology-driven and forward-looking industry. 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. Farm Forward aims to address some of the challenges facing the sector, such as an ageing workforce, and is built around five core commitments: championing quality ingredients; improving animal welfare; providing work and training opportunities for young farmers; promoting environmental improvements on farms; and encouraging knowledge sharing within the industry.