Industries across the UK and Ireland continue to grapple with the impact of inflation, and the agricultural sector is no exception. Unprecedented rises in the cost of fuel, feed and fertiliser are requiring farmers to adapt the way they operate. Add to this an increasing focus on sustainability and it is clear that farming life needs to continuously and rapidly evolve to overcome these challenges.
One farming family who are working hard to do this are the Tizzards. Their dairy farm lies close to the Dorset coast and has been in the family for two generations. It is one of the thousands of British and Irish farms striving to balance the production of quality and sustainably farmed dairy products with the obstacles faced by the industry, and the investment they need to make in the long-term future of their business.
One way this balance can be found is by partnering with large-scale businesses like McDonald’s who serve quality food to millions of customers each day, helping to ensure regular and predictable demand for this produce. The organic semi-skimmed milk from the Tizzards’ farm is enjoyed by people across the UK and Ireland, including at McDonald’s restaurants where you’ll find it in products like coffees and Happy Meal milk bottles. Today, the farm is run by Will Tizzard, 27, who has been a part of life there for many years. ‘I grew up on the farm, around the cows, and I’m really passionate about ensuring we produce a quality product in a way that looks after both our cows and the land around us. As one of McDonald’s trusted milk producers, we’ve supplied organic milk through the dairy cooperative Arla since 2007 and we have a highly collaborative partnership with the brand.’
McDonald’s works with more than 23,000 British and Irish farmers to help them produce quality ingredients in a more sustainable way. Specific schemes such as the Dairy Investment Fund, set up by Arla and McDonald’s Organic Dairy Farmer Network, support farmers like the Tizzards to invest in the future of their farm and provide reassurance that they can continue to operate successfully in the long-term.
‘We’ve been able to buy things like bedding equipment and cow brushes,’ says Will. ‘This keeps the cows comfortable when they come indoors when it’s wet and cold in winter. We’re also working in partnership with McDonald’s on a road map to net zero, and with the support of industry experts and Arla’s Sustainability Incentive Model, we’re being supported to understand some of the actions we can take to reduce our carbon emissions and increase biodiversity on farm too.’
The McDonald’s Flagship Farmer Programme, which Will has been a member of since 2014, encourages farmers to share their knowledge and experience with others in the industry, promoting economic resilience and a secure future for the food and farming industry, something that Will is optimistic about.
‘We want to continuously improve, whether that’s striving to enhance the quality of our produce or trying to make sure that we’re farming in the most sustainable way we can – it’s all really important to us,’ he says. ‘We know organic dairy farmers have a huge part to play in achieving net zero.’
The Tizzards are just one small part of the UK and Ireland’s essential agricultural sector, which not only puts food on our tables, but makes a huge contribution to our economy and supports millions of jobs. It’s therefore more important than ever for farmers to get the support they need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape and to make sure they have the confidence to invest long-term. So, when businesses like McDonald’s work in partnership with farmers, it is helping to protect the UK’s food security for years to come.