LEAF’s Global Impacts Report Reveals Sustainable Farming Progress

LEAF’s fifth Global Impacts Report ‘Delivering More Sustainable Food and Farming’ was launched on the 21st March. It reveals that LEAF Marque certified businesses across the world are continuing to make significant impact on the delivery of more sustainable farming through Integrated Farm Management.

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has announced substantial progress in its mission to inspire and enable sustainable farming. Launching its fifth Global Impacts Report at today’s LEAF Marque Summit, it revealed that it is continuing to consolidate its strong position in the cereals and horticulture sectors and that progress is also being seen in the livestock sector.

The total number of LEAF Marque businesses in all sectors across the globe now totals 1,013 covering 367,395 hectares. Cereals and horticulture remain the two largest sectors amongst LEAF Marque certified businesses: cereals represent 53% of total LEAF Marque crop area (194,441 ha – up 8%), while horticulture represents 41% of total LEAF Marque crop area (152,033 ha – up 5%). Although livestock makes up a much smaller amount, 24% more livestock and poultry businesses are now rearing animals to the LEAF Marque Standard. In total, 596,620 animals, including poultry, are reared to this standard.

In the fresh produce sector, LEAF Marque has further consolidated its strong position, with 1 in 3 hectares of UK fruit and vegetables being grown to the LEAF Marque Standard. In fact, 90% of leeks and 88% of beetroot, by area, are LEAF Marque certified. Meanwhile, watercress and asparagus have seen the greatest increases with 83% and 82% respectively now grown on LEAF Marque certified businesses.

Kathryn Green, Sustainability Manager at LEAF said: “We are immensely proud of the impact LEAF Marque growers across the world are making to delivering more sustainable food and farming. They are farming in ways that have the long-term health of our planet and its people at its heart. The results highlighted in our latest Global Impacts Report show continued improvements in how our producers are managing their soil and water, conserving energy, protecting their crops, enhancing wildlife habitats and reaching out to their local communities. We congratulate and thank them all.”

“This progress is hugely encouraging but there is much scope for expansion, particularly within the livestock and dairy sectors. Increasing the number of LEAF Marque certified businesses in these sectors is a key part of our five year strategy so this is an area we will continue to focus on. What is clear though is that farmers across the world are making important sustainability commitments and are choosing to realise them through LEAF Marque certification; in doing so they represent a powerful force for change.”

The report also shows how businesses are following the sustainable farming practices of LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM). All LEAF Marque certified businesses have a Farm Environmental Policy, with one in three recording Soil Organic Matter. Half of businesses (49%) are carrying out waste management best practice, while 44% have some form of renewable energy generation on farm.

Landscape and Nature Conservation is a key part of LEAF’s IFM. All LEAF Marque certified businesses have a Landscape and Nature Conservation and Enhancement Plan which plays an essential part in helping management of ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity across the whole farm. On average 13% of land on LEAF Marque certified businesses is currently used as habitat for wildlife including hedges, trees and ponds – significantly higher than the 5% recommended in the LEAF Marque Standard. Together, this demonstrates the focus on not only quantity but quality of habitat.

Another area of LEAF’s IFM is Community Engagement. As well as the annual LEAF Open Farm Sunday, LEAF Marque businesses hold visits and events off farm throughout the year. In the past 12 months, LEAF Marque certified businesses communicated sustainable food and farming to a total of 163,317 visitors through 7,147 on-farm and 703 off-farm events.

Caroline Drummond MBE, LEAF Chief Executive added: “We started formally reporting on our monitoring and evaluating work five years ago to show the impact that LEAF Marque certified farmers are making to delivering more sustainable food and farming. The results highlighted in this year’s report show that the progress made by LEAF Marque certified businesses is really something to celebrate. When I meet with LEAF Marque growers and members, I am continually inspired by their willingness to embrace change and adapt to challenges.”

The results were released at the 2017 LEAF Marque Summit. The summit, now in its 2nd year, explored the theme From My Field to Your Fork: Marketing the supply chain sustainability. Speakers included: Jonathon Porritt, Founder and Director, Forum for the Future; Emmanuelle Hopkinson Food Plan A Team, Marks and Spencer; Simon Day, Farm Manager, Worth Farms and LEAF Demonstration Farmer, Emma Keller, Agricultural Commodities Manager, WWF-UK, Emmanuelle Hopkinson, Project Manager, Food Plan A Team, Marks and Spencer and Tallulah Chapman, Communications Manager, Forest Stewardship Council.