ABP farmers to receive computers

Anglo Beef Processors (ABP), which supplies Sainsbury's with its premium beef ranges, has announced it will supply its farmers with computers and software from Farmplan as part of Sainsbury's Farm Connections project.

Farmplan will supply the laptop computers and provide the software and training to 700 Farm Connections producers who supply cattle through ABP for Sainsbury's.

Sainsbury's £1m funding means that the whole package, which includes Farmplan's Cattle Manager recording and management program, will be free to the participating farmers for around a year. After that the farmers will be able to buy their laptop for around £100.

Recent figures suggest that only one in five British beef farmers use IT to help manage their businesses.

It is hoped the scheme will help Sainsbury's farmers operate and compete professionally in the market and access beef supply chain information.

The scheme will also connect the producers to the internet and email network, improving the business' access to a huge range of information, services and products.

Rebecca Timmis of ABP said: "We chose Farmplan because they offered a one-stop-shop for the computers, software and support.

"The company also has a strong track record of delivery and expertise in this area and its software is tried and tested."

Piers Costley, Farmplan's manager for the project, said: "The quality of the support we can offer will be crucial in the successful delivery of this project.

"Above all, farmers contemplating acquiring a computer want to know there is help at hand.

"Recent research on factors affecting farmers' decisions to buy computers put 'Will I be able to use it?' and 'What will I do if it goes wrong?' right at the top of their list - ahead of even price and 'What will it do for me?'

"Sainsbury's is being far-sighted with this scheme. Sooner or later farmers need to be fully linked, through IT, into the food supply chain right through to the customer.

"For those joining this Sainsbury's scheme it will be sooner," said Costley.