LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) unveiled its new ambition for LEAF Marque today (15th May) at a special reception to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the leading environmental assurance system.
The three central pillars to LEAF’s future ambitions for LEAF Marque were revealed as being:
· Growing Impact for LEAF Marque certified farmers through opening up market opportunities, assisting with strategic business planning, enhancing on-farm biodiversity and delivering an improved environment
· Enabling brands and retailers to demonstrate commitment to environmentally sustainable procurement, continued improvement of supply base and sustainable farming becoming the benchmark for global farming
Going forward, LEAF is committed to delivering more environmentally sustainable farming, working with forward-thinking producers who are committed to sustainable land management and providing a robust, transparent and credible assurance system. Through the independently verified LEAF Marque, LEAF will support farmers with technical guidance and will help companies strengthen their responsible sourcing policies. And in parallel, LEAF will continue to raise public awareness and increase demand for more sustainably produced products.
In total, there are currently 1,032 LEAF Marque certified businesses, operating across the globe. Significantly, retailers are increasingly using LEAF Marque to demonstrate sustainable farming practices, such as through the long-term commitment from Waitrose sourcing all UK fresh fruit and vegetables from LEAF Marque certified growers and LEAF Marque being a Plan A attribute for Marks and Spencer. Furthermore, LEAF Marque growers are being recognised for their commitment beyond the market place, with the States of Jersey Government’s new Rural Economy Strategy including LEAF Marque certification and Environment Agency Earned Recognition.
Tom Green, in his first public engagement as Chairman for LEAF Marque, said: “Over the past 15 years, LEAF has developed LEAF Marque into the leading global environmental assurance system recognising more sustainably farmed products. Today, 36% of the fruit and vegetables produced in the UK are produced to LEAF Marque Standards and its global reach is growing all the time too, with production now in 34 countries across the world – that’s quite an achievement in 15 years.
“Consumer awareness and demand for more sustainably produced food is at an all-time high – demonstrating the need for an assurance system such as LEAF Marque. It provides businesses with an opportunity to promote their commitment to environmental sustainability.
“Our ambition is to turn up the volume on the great work that has already been done and to shine a light on what LEAF Marque means for all the key parts of the food supply chain – from farmers, through brands and retailers and UK consumers. Here’s to the next 15 years.”
George Eustice MP, Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said: “LEAF does important work to connect more people to the countryside, through initiatives to get more people out onto farms, and appreciating the work our farmers do.
“It was a pleasure to speak at the 15th anniversary reception today, and to hear LEAF Marque’s ambitions for the future as consumer demand for sustainable, high-welfare food continues to grow.”
The reception was held in the House of Commons on Tuesday 15th May. As well as celebrating 15 years of LEAF Marque and revealing future ambitions for LEAF Marque, LEAF announced the launch of LEAF Education, the rebranding of FACE (Farming and Countryside Education), which merged with LEAF last year.
Also speaking at the event was Marion Regan of Hugh Lowe Farms, the very first grower to become a LEAF Marque certified business 15 years ago. Marion’s farm produces strawberries for major retailers and is the long term supplier of strawberries to The Championships at Wimbledon.
Click here to view the full press release.