McDonald's UK study helps farmers get greener and richer
Published:  24 February, 2016

Fast-food chain McDonald's has launched one of the largest independent studies of UK and Irish beef farms, which it says identifies measures that can help farmers meet government standards for Co2 reduction and boost profits. 

The beef carbon report measured carbon emissions from more than 1,300 beef farms in the UK and Ireland between 2008 and 2014. McDonald’s UK supply chain director Connor McVeigh launched the study at the 2016 National Farmers’ Union conference on 23 February.

McDonald's says the study had driven a 23% reduction in carbon emissions on the farms it monitored. This carbon footprint drop suggests British beef farmers may be capable of achieving the 11% voluntary reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions set by the UK government for 2020.

As well as reducing their carbon footprint, farmers who participated in the study recorded yearly savings of up to £23,000.

“Carbon reduction targets have been in place for some time and we know farmers are under growing pressure to meet them,” said McVeigh.

“The question has been, what practical steps can we as an industry take to drive these improvements? As one of the biggest customers of British and Irish farming, we want to help the sector meet these challenges and thrive in the future.

“That’s why we commissioned one of the largest ever independent carbon studies carried out directly with beef farmers in the UK and Ireland to provide practical advice and guidance that can help farmers to become more sustainable and profitable.”  

Put simply, McDonald's believes the carbon report can help beef farmers around the world achieve the voluntary reduction targets set by international governments after the UN climate conference in Paris last December.

How to reduce carbon on your farm?

Measure and monitor – if you can’t measure your carbon footprint, you can’t manage it

Benchmark – know where you stand against your competitors and fellow farmers

Focus on live weight gain – this helps reduce on farm and digestive emissions

Use protocols to improve animal health – safeguard welfare, reduce mortality and boost performance

Maximise home-grown forage – improved grassland management and diet can help with this

Reduce calving interval – breed for fertility in suckler herds, ensure close heat management and optimum first calving age