YORKSHIRE-BASED supermarket chain Morrisons has announced it is to allow bull calves from its dairy suppliers participating in the Arla UK 360 programme into its beef supply chain.

Dairy farmers supported by Morrisons to participate in Arla UK 360, will also be able to sell bull and beef calves into the calf rearing units of Buitelaar Production, Morrisons’ beef rearing partners. Belgian and British Blue crossed breeds may go on to form part of Morrisons beef supply chain.

Morrisons Agricultural Manager, Sophie Throup comments, “As we work with Arla farmers making the transition to the Arla UK 360 standards we see the extensive efforts they are making. As we own our own abattoirs and end to end meat production, we saw an opportunity to connect the supply chains support our dairy farmers even more. Having worked with Buitelaar since 2009 on developing the dairy beef market, we already have a good working relationship to build on through the extended programme for Morrisons Arla farmers.”

One of the Arla UK 360 standards requires that no healthy calf be shot or slaughtered before eight weeks of age so, the move will support farmers by guaranteeing a home for every calf.

Graham Wilkinson, Agriculture Director Arla Foods UK comments: “This move by Morrisons to open up its supply chain to further support our owners, represents everything the Arla UK 360 programme envisioned. Arla’s farmer owners see opportunities to evolve farming if we make a supply chain that works for everyone. This decision and the support through the supply chain with Buitelaar is the perfect example of how bigger change can be delivered in agriculture if we all work together.”

Buitelaar comments: “We share the view of Arla that every calf should have a value and purpose. With 30% of UK beef being imported into the UK, working across the supply chain and across both Beef and Dairy in this way could prove a big step in making Britain further self-sufficient in beef. Having recently received recognition from farm animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming and been awarded the Good Calf Award we’re confident our calf rearing units deliver the highest welfare and care for calves, so it is great to see industry leaders come together to rethink the natural links between beef and dairy.”

- Programme aims to encourage fresh talent and address skills challenge -

- Average age of UK farmers is 59, only 3% are under the age of 35 -

- Would-be farmers will learn the skills to produce food for the nation -

Morrisons is to launch a £2 million apprenticeship fund which will be used to train the farmers of the future.

The funding will be used to ensure that British farming has enough people being trained to meet the UK’s food needs.

The average age of UK farmers is 59 and only 3% of UK farmers are under the age of 35. Some 70% of farmers believe not enough young people are coming into farming. [1]

Farming is facing a recruitment challenge with fewer farmers’ children wanting to run the family business. Some 15% of farmers named succession and inheritance as the largest issues threatening family-run farms today.[2]

Additionally in towns and cities there may not be enough knowledge of the countryside to generate an interest in farming. Amongst 18- to 24-year olds, 16% say they have never visited a farm and the aim is to attract more people from urban areas into farming.

Morrisons’ programme and apprenticeship funding will equip would-be farmers with the broad skills needed. It will also upskill apprentices with the business knowledge of how to provide for food manufacturers and retailers like Morrisons.

David Potts, Morrisons Chief Executive, said:

“We are British farming’s single largest customer and so it makes sense to invest our apprenticeship fund so that more new farmers can be trained to provide food for the nation.

“We hope that people from all backgrounds will be attracted to these important jobs.”

Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union said:

“The NFU welcomes this announcement by Morrisons to provide additional funding for the training of farmers and growers. Improving skills is a key part to unlocking productivity gains on farm and vital in addressing the future challenges and pressures that farming faces.

“Training and skills development also ensures there is a professional, flexible and reliable workforce as well as helping to attract new entrants to the industry"”

The Morrisons programme will include:

● Broad based agricultural skills training from a recognised training provider

● mentoring and support from fellow apprentices and key members of the Morrisons’ team to understand the retail sector;

● matching apprentices with local stores so budding farmers can spend days in store learning what customers want and how stores work;

● studying to develop their understanding of customer attitudes to British sourcing, farming and animal welfare

People interested in taking up the Morrisons Farming Apprenticeship Scheme can apply by visiting the Morrisons farming website at https://www.morrisons-farming.com.