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LEAF Marque Standard v15.0 - Inspiring and Enabling Sustainable Farming Through LEAF Marque Certification

This autumn sees the publication of the latest version of the LEAF Marque Standard. Lucy Redmore, Technical Coordinator, outlines what has changed and how these changes support farmers in their journey to more sustainable farming.

Con­tin­u­al improve­ment is a key activ­i­ty required of LEAF Mar­que cer­ti­fied busi­ness­es but it’s some­thing we also imple­ment here at LEAF, espe­cial­ly when devel­op­ing the LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard; we want to ensure its con­tin­ued rel­e­vance and deliv­ery of more sus­tain­able farm­ing through Inte­grat­ed Farm Man­age­ment. Part of the suc­cess of the LEAF Mar­que pro­gram and the momen­tum behind it is that peo­ple have con­fi­dence in our Stan­dard. Indus­try prac­tices and sci­en­tif­ic under­stand­ing evolve over time, so our Stan­dards need to evolve too.

Every few years, we revise the LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard. These reg­u­lar, com­pre­hen­sive reviews are a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to tap into the skills, wis­dom and insights of our mem­bers and stake­hold­ers, sci­en­tists, NGO rep­re­sen­ta­tives and oth­er sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture experts as well as the gen­er­al pub­lic. We’re very proud of the lat­est ver­sion of the LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard and we would like to thank all those who gave us feed­back and guid­ance through­out the revi­sion process. 

We have car­ried out some excit­ing devel­op­ments in four key areas, as well as amend­ments to ensure rel­e­vance glob­al­ly and for dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tion sys­tems, con­sis­ten­cy in lan­guage, and a greater empha­sis on con­tin­u­al improve­ment and effi­cien­cy. Here’s an overview: 

Ani­mal Hus­bandry Jen­ny Clark, Assur­ance Man­ag­er (and LEAF’s in-house live­stock expert), has devel­oped new require­ments and Con­trol Points after exten­sive research, tri­al audit­ing and input from our live­stock pro­duc­ers and the sup­ply chain. This empha­sis­es the impor­tance of good ani­mal wel­fare for main­tain­ing healthy ani­mals and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty whilst also reduc­ing envi­ron­men­tal impact, strength­en­ing what LEAF Mar­que can offer sus­tain­able live­stock busi­ness­es and their sup­ply chains. Key changes include mon­i­tor­ing of ani­mal per­for­mance indi­ca­tors and con­sid­er­a­tion of ani­mal feed — it’s source, com­po­si­tion and nutri­tion­al value.

Out­come-Based Approach­es to Bio­di­ver­si­ty LEAF Mar­que is the first agri­cul­tur­al Stan­dard to tran­si­tion towards a hybrid approach of includ­ing out­come-based require­ments along­side the exist­ing prac­tice-based require­ments. This pio­neer­ing project began with bio­di­ver­si­ty and soil (see below) and is still ongo­ing. A new Rec­om­mend­ed Con­trol Point has been intro­duced into v15.0 fol­low­ing work with sus­tain­abil­i­ty con­sul­tants New­Fore­sight, togeth­er with a diverse group of stake­hold­ers to con­duct desk research, sev­er­al inter­views and a work­shop. The Con­trol Point requires mon­i­tor­ing of two iden­ti­fied out­comes; indi­ca­tor species which have been local­ly nego­ti­at­ed, and the per­cent­age of land man­aged for habi­tat, appro­pri­ate for native the bio­di­ver­si­ty. For more infor­ma­tion, read the sum­ma­ry report here.

Mea­sur­ing Soil Health Soil Health has been a fre­quent top­ic of con­ver­sa­tion in recent years and a sub­ject that has been ris­ing up the pub­lic and polit­i­cal agen­da. Yet nav­i­gat­ing the com­plex issue of how soil health can be mea­sured can be dif­fi­cult. LEAF Mar­que recog­nised the impor­tance of mea­sur­ing soil health and aimed to empha­sise this whilst also pro­vide direc­tion for grow­ers on appro­pri­ate soil health tests. A new Rec­om­mend­ed Con­trol Point has been intro­duced for v15.0 which was devel­oped fol­low­ing research by LEAF stu­dent intern Sam Brook, who iden­ti­fied the most prac­ti­cal and effec­tive soil health tests as Visu­al Soil Assess­ments and earth­worm counts. You can read more about Sam’s research on his blog or research sum­ma­ry.

Com­mu­ni­ty Engage­ment Anoth­er defin­ing fea­ture of the LEAF Mar­que is that it oper­ates glob­al­ly – in 2018, there were LEAF Mar­que cer­ti­fied busi­ness­es in 27 coun­tries. The LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard is plan-based which pro­vides the flex­i­bil­i­ty need­ed for it to be applied glob­al­ly, but we recog­nised that glob­al rel­e­vance could be improved in the Com­mu­ni­ty Engage­ment sec­tion. The core prin­ci­ples of this sec­tion remain the same, but the Con­trol Points have been replaced with ones that are glob­al­ly applic­a­ble, requir­ing that at least one activ­i­ty that intends to engage the local or wider com­mu­ni­ty is car­ried out. 

Work­ing in part­ner­ship with our mem­bers, indus­try part­ners and stake­hold­ers through­out the food sup­ply chain, we will con­tin­ue to refine, improve and build on the LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard. Our Stan­dard is not an end in itself; it is an impor­tant dri­ver for change. Through it we are sup­port­ing hun­dreds of com­mit­ted and deter­mined grow­ers all over the globe, to achieve their sus­tain­abil­i­ty goals. 

The LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard v15.0 will be pub­lished on the 1st Octo­ber 2019 and becomes effec­tive from the 1st Jan­u­ary 2020. If you have any ques­tions on the LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard v15.0 or Stan­dard Set­ting Pro­ce­dure, please do not hes­i­tate to get in touch at [email protected]​leafmarque.​com.

We also pro­vide a BASIS accred­it­ed two-day train­ing course cov­er­ing all aspects of Inte­grat­ed Farm Man­age­ment and the LEAF Mar­que Stan­dard – if you would like to be updat­ed of the next course, please con­tact lucy.​[email protected]​leafuk.​org.