Farmplan Computer Systems has agreed a deal worth over £1m with retailer Sainsbury’s to provide laptop computers to beef farmers supplying the supermarket through its Farm Connections project.

Glos-based Farmplan, which is owned by FW’s parent company Reed Business Information, will provide laptops and software including Farmplan’s Cattle Manager recording and management program.

The computers will be free to 700 Farm Connections farmers, supplying the retailer’s premium beef ranges through meat processor ABP.

Farmplan’s Piers Costley said: “Sainsbury’s is being far-sighted with this scheme. Sooner or later, farmers need to be fully linked through information technology into the supply chain, right through to the consumer.”

The contract is believed to be the biggest ever of its kind and will begin delivering computers to farmers later this summer. Laptops will be supplied fully loaded with the full program of Cattle Manager and Microsoft Works, and be ready to connect to email and the internet.

ABP’s Rebecca Timmis said: “We chose Farmplan because they offered a one-stop sop for the computers, software and support. The company has a strong track record and its software is tried and tested.”

All the farmers will receive training through the project’s partners, the South West of England Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands and Meat Promotion Wales.