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Stackyard News Apr 07

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    Farmplan to supply Sainsbury’s beef producers

ABP has announced that it has chosen Farmplan Computer Systems as the major supplier for the £1million plus Sainsbury’s Farm Connections project.

beef cattle

Farmplan will source the laptop computers and provide the software and full support services to 700 Farm Connections producers who supply cattle through ABP for Sainsbury’s premium beef ranges. Sainsbury’s funding means that the whole package, which includes Farmplan’s Cattle Manager recording and management program, will be free to the participating farmers for the duration of the project.

Recent figures suggest that only one in five British beef farmers use IT to help manage their businesses. Sainsbury’s, by providing beef producers with computers, will help them operate and compete professionally in the market and access beef supply chain information. The scheme will also connect the producers to the internet and email network, improving the business’ access to a huge range of information, services and products.

“We chose Farmplan because they offered a one-stop-shop for the computers, software and support,” said Rebecca Timmis of ABP. “The company also has a strong track record of delivery and expertise in this area and its software is tried and tested.”

Farmplan’s Manager for the project Piers Costley said: “The quality of the support we can offer will be crucial in the successful delivery of this project. Above all farmers contemplating acquiring a computer want to know there is help at hand. Recent research on factors affecting farmers’ decisions to buy computers put ‘Will I be able to use it?’ and ‘What will I do if it goes wrong?’ right at the top of their list - ahead of even price and ‘What will it do for me?’

“Sainsbury’s is being far-sighted with this scheme. Sooner or later farmers need to be fully linked, through IT, into the food supply chain right through to the customer. For those joining this Sainsbury’s scheme it will be sooner,” said Mr Costley.

The contract to supply the computers for Sainsbury’s Farm Connections project is believed to be biggest ever in on-farm IT and starts to roll out to producers early this summer. The Farm Connections producers will receive their laptops already pre-loaded with the full version of Cattle Manager and Microsoft Works, which includes word processing and spreadsheet programs. The laptop will be ready to connect to email and the web with a dedicated Farm Connections domain email address.

All the producers will receive local training in the basics of computer use, the web and email and Cattle Manager, funded and organised by regional project partners - South West of England Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands and Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales).

• Welsh beef producers have been quickest to recognise the advantages of Sainsbury’s Farm Connections, which is being offered to a total of 700 ABP producers - 200 in Wales and 250 each in the South West and West Midlands - on a first come, first served basis. Within six weeks of the launch of the scheme, all 200 places for Welsh producers have been snapped up. ABP producers in the West Midlands and the South West wishing more information, or to sign up to the project, should contact ABP on 0845 075 7785 or contact their local ABP livestock buyer.

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