McDonald’s has a launched a new three-part programme to support British and Irish farmers.

Farm Forward includes a training programme for young farmers, the provision of a carbon calculator to farmers and funding for research and innovation. McDonald’s will invest £1m in the project in its first year.

The training programme will see McDonald’s teaming up with Harper Adams University College, the University of Reading and Newcastle University to fund sandwich years for students who will spend time on farm, in factories supplying McDonald’s and in McDonald’s restaurants themselves. Two students, who will start their courses in September, have already been recruited but McDonald’s is considering further applicants.

If the programme is successful, the company said it would look to encourage other major UK food players to adopt the scheme. “We think it’s a very strong scheme, but if it worked, we could have a call-to-arms top other food retailers,” said Brian Mullens, senior vice president, supply chain, McDonald’s UK.   

Earlier this week, McDonald’s announced that 100% of the chicken it will serve at this year’s Olympic Games – of which it is a tier one sponsor – will be British and Red Tractor certified.

The move came after the London Assembly was told earlier this month that as little as 10% of the chicken sold by McDonald’s at the 2012 Olympics would be from the UK.