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McDonald's UK and Ireland win sustainability award from Compassion in World Farming

28 June 2021
FAI Farms

McDonald’s UK & Ireland and FAI win Compassion in World Farming’s Sustainable Food and Farming Award.

McDonald’s UK & Ireland and FAI have been announced as winners of the Sustainable Food and Farming Award for 2021 from Compassion in World Farming. The award celebrates businesses that have taken significant steps to produce meat, dairy and eggs sustainably and in ways that protect, improve, and restore wildlife.

McDonald’s and FAI have been recognised for their Regenerative Beef project - a pioneering programme determining how UK and Irish commercial beef production can adopt a regenerative agricultural approach. The project, taking place on FAI’s farm, aims to show how beef farms can be adapted to draw down more carbon than they emit, whilst also restoring soil quality, increasing biodiversity, and improving farmer resilience.

The four-year project is in its second year and aims to better understand the impacts, barriers, and benefits of introducing a regenerative farming technique called Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing. AMP grazing looks to mimic nature and the role ruminants play in healthy ecosystems. It involves each beef farm creating a bespoke grazing plan which sees farmers apply a series of ecological principles to achieve the best regenerative outcomes specific to their location. These principles include ensuring there is no bare soil, maximising root depth by leaving grass to grow longer and using intensive grazing and long periods of rest to optimise animal impact on the land.

The positive effects of AMP grazing are already beginning to show on FAI’s farm, with grass going to seed at a higher height than previously observed, showing how quickly these grazing patches are recovering. In addition, cattle are selecting different parts of the plants to graze on, which will in turn provide a greater nutritional diversity and contribute to a healthier, more content herd.

The partnership looks to help farmers tackle the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change facing the farming industry. In capturing the ethical, environmental, and economic impact of AMP grazing, McDonald’s and FAI will use the learnings from this project to create training and support for beef producers in McDonald’s supply chain and beyond. A new learning platform will go live in autumn 2021 to support UK and Irish farmers looking to make the shift towards regenerative beef farming.

Harriet Wilson, Agriculture and Sustainable Sourcing Manager, McDonald’s UK & Ireland said: “We are incredibly proud to have won this award for our work on this ground-breaking project, alongside our brilliant partners FAI. The project presents a real opportunity to explore the ways in which we can futureproof the industry and drive more resilient production, to ensure our future beef supply contributes to a sustainable food system where people, local communities, animals and the planet can thrive. We can’t wait to see the impact this project could have on the UK beef industry.”

Clare Hill, Director of Regenerative Agriculture at FAI said: “Regenerative agriculture represents a path towards a new climate future. While there is a lot of interest around the potential for regenerative agriculture, I’m pleased that McDonald’s had the early insight to work with us to explore its possibilities.

“We are only into our second grazing season of the project and we are already starting to see the changes on the farm and are sharing the results with the wider supply chain. It’s fantastic to see that our work has been recognised by Compassion in World Farming with this award, and we can’t wait to share the findings with the industry. “

Click here for more information and updates on the project.

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