Old McDonald and the flagship farms

24/06/2009 - 00:00
As the word ‘sustainability’ continues to do the rounds throughout the foodservice industry, fast-food giant McDonald’s has added another string to its eco-friendly bow with a scheme supporting farms across its supply chain. We take a look at the new initiative.

The Flagship Farms programme is designed to promote and share the benefits of sustainable agricultural practices. Developed in conjunction with the Food Animal Initiative (FAI), the scheme will showcase the innovative farming practices used, initially at seven progressive farms across Europe via a brand new website. The primary aim is to encourage more dialogue between the farmers who supply McDonald's and to encourage broader adoption across the farming community One such farm is Farm Frites in Poland, which has demonstrated good environmental practices in a fast-developing rural economy through a number of innovative processes in a way that is locally relevant. It focuses on best practice in the areas of soil use, water use, energy use reduction and employee welfare. A wide array of technology has enabled Farm Frites to maximise yield and quality while ensuring that agrochemicals and fertilisers are only applied where needed. Steve McIvor, director of food business, Compassion in World Farming said: "The McDonald's Flagship Farm programme is an excellent new initiative highlighting outstanding examples of successful and sustainable producers. We were particularly impressed by the example of The Lakes Free Range Eggs Company. "Their combination of high standards of hen welfare with positive impacts on their local environment and community, provide an inspiring and practical model for other businesses that seek to achieve profits with principles." Karl Fitz, chief supply chain officer at McDonald's Europe added: "Across our European business, we are always mindful of the environmental impact of the demand for food and we always look for ways to improve the quality of the raw materials that we use. "The ultimate goal of initiatives like Flagship Farms and MAAP is to assure supply, maintain price stability and respond to consumer demand for responsibly sourced, traceable produce - so that everyone benefits - our farmers and suppliers, our business, and our consumers." Flagship Farms Dempsey Farm: A beef farm in Ireland, which has demonstrated economically viable beef production with high standards of animal welfare and good environmental management. For example, the owner of the farm helps to preserve the natural habitat by planting one hectare of 'Linnet' (Land Invested in Nature, Natural Eco-Tillage), with oats and kale and leaving it in a completely natural state without chemicals or fertilisers. As a consequence, the area is used as an important food source by a great number and variety of birds throughout the season. Benefica do Ribatejo: A tomato farm in Portugal, which has demonstrated how close collaboration between producer and grower enables sustainable, safe production and the sharing and implementing of good practice. The farm is part of a joint collaboration of 46 farms in which the Producer/Grower organisation deals directly with the tomato processor. This means that farms can improve return for their tomatoes by ensuring that the supply criteria of the contract is met and can also access professional plant technologists for help and advice on fertiliser, plant protection product applications and water use. The Lakes: A free range egg company in the UK, which has demonstrated how free-range egg production can be undertaken with maximum benefit to the well-being of the flock, while providing a diverse and sustainable business in a rural environment. The eggs produced by the company's 48,000 free range birds comprise 10% of the requirements of the business' packing station, with the remainder contracted out to local farmers. This helps local businesses to find additional ventures to the traditional beef and sheep production from the area and by providing bespoke advice on topics from building construction and breeds of birds, the farm ensure these new suppliers operate effectively from day one. In addition, working with suppliers to plant 6,000 acres of trees contributes towards offsetting CO2 emissions in t

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