Sainsbury's makes online link for farmers

Anglo Beef Processors (ABP), which supplies Sainsbury's with its premium beef ranges, has

announced it will offer its far-mers computers and software from Farmplan as part of Sainsbury's Farm Connections project.

Farmplan will provide the laptop computers, 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 programme, will be free to the participating farmers for around a year. After that, the farmers will be able to buy their laptops for around £100.

Recent figures suggest that only one in five British beef far-mers use IT to help manage their businesses. It is hoped the scheme will help Sainsbury's farmers

operate and compete professio-nally in the market and access beef supply chain information.

The scheme will also connect the producers to the internet

and email network, improving

the businesses' access to a huge range of information, services

and products.

Piers Costley, Farmplan's manager for the project, said: "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."