Kane County farmers host McDonald's for harvest tour

IFB members discuss farm practices, sustainability with representatives of company's public affairs and supply chain teams.

Kane _county _farmers _host _mcdonalds _harvest _tour _1_636457485618232000Nineteen McDonald’s Public Affairs and Supply Chain Team members learn about combines on the Kane County farm of Chris, Eldon and Sandy Gould. The visitors got a firsthand view of farming to help make future decisions. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Tracy)

By Ryan Tracy

For many years, Illinois Farm Bureau has placed a priority on engaging companies throughout the food chain through events like the Value Chain Tour and Agribusiness Roundtable, to name a few.

One of the most successful engagements has been asking IFB members to host companies for farm tours. Last week, Chris, Eldon and Sandy Gould hosted 19 members of McDonald’s Public Affairs and Supply Chain Teams.

Chris spent the morning discussing farm practices, specifically many conservation efforts. Later in the day, visitors viewed cover crops and stopped by the hog barn and grain bins. They also took turns riding in the combine and grain trailer.

“It was important to take time out from harvest to establish relationships and open dialogue with some key players in the food industry,” said Chris.

McDonald’s was interested to hear what Illinois farmers are doing regarding sustainability. IFB worked with Kendra Levine, McDonald’s U.S. Supply Chain Sustainability manager, to set up the tour.

“It’s important for those within McDonald’s whose work touches on upstream supply chain sustainability issues to understand what happens on a farm, the challenges and the innovation taking place there. We all learned from Chris, and for some who had never been on a farm, the dialogue and tour were very educational. These opportunities ground us in reality as we develop strategies for our company and work to influence the industries in our supply chain,” said Levine.

Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB’s associate director of natural and environmental resources, shared information about the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction strategy, 4R4U, the IFB Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program and work she is doing to enhance pollinators.

When asked how McDonald’s is looking to work on sustainability issues in the future, Levine said, “We are looking to set goals companywide on a variety of sustainability focused areas that will cover the whole value chain we touch – from the farm to our restaurants. Specifically, for row crop ag, we’re interested in knowing what practices that improve soil health, reduce impacts on climate change and protect water sources are being used by farmers in our supply chain. Our strategies around this are in development.”

Farm tours like this represent one way Illinois farmers can interface with companies throughout the value chain. Getting representatives out to see farming firsthand gives them a much better understanding of what happens every day across Illinois and helps form their decision making in the future.

“I felt it was important to get firsthand knowledge of what may be coming at us as far as demands, and certification of those demands, regarding sustainable practices,” Chris added.

Special thanks to Kane County Farm Bureau Manager Steve Arnold for all his help with the tour.

Ryan Tracy serves as IFB’s director of external relations.

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