Arla’s UK owners have until the 31st October to apply for grants of up to £10,000 in the second round of McDonald’s capital grant scheme, part of Farm Forward, McDonald’s long-term programme of support for the UK farming industry.

The McDonald’s Grant Scheme, which launched in March this year, has paid out more than £156,000 so far to 19 farmers around the UK. The initiative was set up to support the future of the British dairy industry and fund applications that are focused on raising animal welfare standards, providing economic benefit to the farmers business or making environmental improvements. McDonald’s has committed £500,000 over the course of the year to enable the scheme.

Arla Foods supplies organic milk to the UK supply chain for McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, and the companies have a long standing partnership that has lasted over 30 years and has seen a number of collaborations when it comes to agriculture initiatives.

One of the 19 Arla farmers benefitting from the grant scheme is Lancashire dairy farmer Ian Pye, who was awarded £5,000 to help improve animal welfare across his herd with a range of new equipment. Derbyshire based farmer, David Dilks has replaced a one km section of worn cow track linking two sections of his land, and in Shropshire, organic dairy farmer Chris Jerman, has used his £10,000 grant to improve the welfare of his cattle with a new cow shed.

Chris Jerman says, “I was determined to invest in my farm’s infrastructure and build a new cow shed, but was struggling to find the funds. I’ve applied for Defra grants before, but the process for McDonald’s was much simpler and I think it’s such a great initiative. I’m proud to be a part of the McDonald’s and Arla supply chain, especially as they are so committed to reinvesting back into British farming.”

The new cow shed has a fully concreted floor that’s easier to clean and an open ridge ventilation system in the roof that circulates more fresh air. In addition, new technology has been installed along the shed to allow for safer handling of individual cattle.

Chris added: “You can see that the cows are happier and healthier in there and the new shed is so much easier to keep clean, helping me keep the farm’s productivity up. This investment goes much further than a new piece of technology, it’ll be a part of my farm for the next 50 years.

Alice Willett, Agriculture Consultant, Sustainable Sourcing – UK & Ireland comments, “We’re proud to source from farmers that care, and we’re passionate about supporting the future of the British dairy industry with this Capital Grant Scheme in partnership with Arla. This work forms part of our Farm Forward programme which aims to develop skills and knowledge, raise animal welfare standards and make environmental improvements. We’re delighted to see the impact that these funds are already having in helping support farmers to make improvements on their farms.”

Research commissioned by McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd and conducted by the National Farm Research Unit, found that 88% of farmers believe that high welfare standards are vital to making UK farming globally competitive, with almost two thirds stating that individual farmers are responsible for driving animal welfare – highlighting the importance of the scheme.

Graham Wilkinson, Head of Agriculture at Arla Foods UK comments: “Investing in initiatives that continue to build animal welfare, health and safety, and environmental standards is a key way we can support this and our farmer owners, like Chris, Ian, and David, are testament to its success.

“Our 30 year partnership with McDonald’s has enabled thousands of British farmers to take part in a supportive supply chain which places the welfare of its dairy cows at its heart. Arla’s UK farmers can benefit from the grant scheme and we welcome those who are interested to take advantage of a scheme that has been designed to support them and their business.”

Round two of the grant scheme is now open for applications from Arla’s farmer owners not on a retailer/foodservice aligned contract. Entries can be submitted online via the Arla farmers’ website. All applications must be completed by midnight on 31 October 2018.