John is in the running for top award at Great Yorkshire Show

Co Down farmer John Dobson
Co Down farmer John Dobson

Co Down farmer John Dobson will find out today if he is the winner of the ‘Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award’.

The winner of the McDonalds award will be announced at the Great Yorkshire Show.

The shortlisted farmers include David Dilks and his family who run an organic dairy farm in Shottle, Derbyshire; Mark Green, whose Herefordshire farm produces poultry and potatoes for McDonald’s and County Down farmer, John Dobson who has supplied McDonald’s with beef for over 30 years

The award was first launched in 2015, and this is the fourth year McDonald’s is looking to celebrate progressive farmers throughout the UK and Ireland who are demonstrating a creative and innovative approach to implementing the best in sustainable farming practice in their businesses.

This is the second year McDonald’s has held the ceremony at the Great Yorkshire Show, a showcase event for agriculture which attracts thousands of visitors, to raise awareness of the leading work in the agriculture sector carried out by farmers who supply McDonald’s.

Nominees for the award are selected from all corners of the McDonald’s agriculture supply chain across the UK and Ireland. These are then shortlisted by a committee of McDonald’s suppliers, with the final shortlist being judged on their best practice in all areas of sustainability, but also on their leadership and commitment to advancing knowledge exchange in the farming industry by a team at McDonald’s and FAI Farms.

David Dilks - David and his family have worked with McDonald’s since 2010 with his herd of organic dairy cows producing milk for McDonald’s teas, coffees and Happy Meal milk bottles. The farm has been organic since 2007 and this change has revolutionised not only the land management practices but also the breed of cows used on the farm.

The judges were impressed by David’s focus on continual, practical investments, not only to improve the welfare of his cows but also to manage his farm in harmony with the environment without compromising production. His latest investment, made through the McDonald’s Dairy Capital Grant Scheme was to install over a mile of Astroturf on the farm tracks for cows to walk in comfort between the fields and milking parlour.

Mark Green - Mark and his family have been supplying McDonald’s for 18 years and grow a range of crops including potatoes for McDonald’s iconic fries. They have also invested to rear chicken for the McDonald’s UK menu and have worked hard to fully integrate a range of renewable energy enterprises into their livestock and arable farming operation. Under-floor heating is used extensively in their chicken housing to ensure best in class performance for environmental efficiency and animal health.

His commitment to the local community involves diversifying to run two local pubs, keeping important facilities open to both locals and visitors.

John Dobson - John is a sixth generation farmer, rearing Aberdeen Angus beef cattle for the McDonald’s UK menu. Recognising the volatile nature of the beef industry, John invested to become more self-sufficient, increasing the number of cows to produce more of his own cattle to finish. His breeding and grazing strategy focuses on fast growth rates to reduce carbon footprint and optimise returns from grass.

Despite running a busy farm, John still finds the time to share his experience and knowledge with other producers and has mentored many young beef farmers from across Northern Ireland. The judges were impressed by the importance he places on training future farmers and in using the relationship he has with educational institutions to ensure he is aware of the latest research and farming practice.

Connor McVeigh, Supply Chain Director, McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be announcing the winner of our Outstanding Farmer Award, an award introduced to celebrate the hard-working, innovative farmers who provide the excellent ingredients which make the quality, great-tasting McDonald’s menu items we all know and love. The competition this year has been fierce and all three of our final candidates are worthy winners and should be very proud to be shortlisted.”

“We have always understood the importance of working in partnership with our suppliers, to ensure that we have a sustainable supply of a great quality ingredients. Many of our key suppliers have worked with the business for decades. We know that for our business to thrive we need the British and Irish farming industry to thrive too. We invest for the long term, working side by side with our suppliers and farmers to make incremental improvements to ensure the future of the industry.”

McDonald’s will be present at the Great Yorkshire Show with their pioneering Foodsteps Truck, championing British and Irish farming as part of their long-term programme to address the challenges facing the agriculture and farming sector. The truck allows consumers to be transported behind the scenes on some of McDonald’s UK’s flagship farms, factories and restaurants, providing their UK food story via 360 degree filming.