TORONTO – McDonald’s Canada announced its first-ever Canadian representative to the McDonald’s Flagship Farmer Program, a global initiative that highlights farmers who best exemplify the company’s best practices in beef production and agriculture.

Stephen Hughes from Chinook Ranch in Longview, Alberta, was selected for his use of innovative ranching practices, including year-round rotational grazing. Hughes will participate in a variety of community engagement and outreach events as a representative of the Flagship Farmer Program.

“I am humbled to be selected as the first McDonald’s Flagship Farmer in Canada,” Hughes said. “I am happy to be an example of all the good work that is going on in my industry; and I appreciate and recognize the commitment that McDonald’s has made to Canadian ranchers.”

McDonald’s global Flagship Farmer program has recognized farmers and ranchers in Europe for several years. The global McDonald’s business has identified 33 producers, ranchers, farmers and growers in 17 countries as part of the Flagship Farmers program. The current focus is on identifying Flagship Farmer beef producers in each of the top 10 countries from which McDonald’s sources its beef, including Canada, the United States, Australia, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, Poland and United Kingdom.

McDonald’s Canada has used Canadian beef since 2003 and has championed sustainability in the Canadian beef industry since 2009. The company said the relationship between McDonald’s Canada and Chinook Ranch has helped establish McDonald’s as a leader in beef sustainability and demonstrated the company’s commitment to the Canadian beef industry. Canada is the third-largest supplier of beef to the McDonald’s system on a global basis, according to the company.

“McDonald’s commitment to using 100 percent Canadian beef and supporting Canadian ranchers and farmers remains a key business priority,” said John Betts, president and CEO, McDonald’s Canada. “Bringing the Flagship Farmer Program to Canada is the next logical step in our beef sustainability journey and helps us respond to growing consumer demand for responsibly-sourced beef. By working together on initiatives such as this, everybody benefits — our business, our suppliers and our guests.”