New study demonstrates the value of the LEAF Marque beyond certification

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Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF), responsible for one of the world’s leading environmental assurance systems, has yesterday published findings from a report showing the value of LEAF Marque certification in developing and promoting more sustainable farming and food systems across the globe.

The new independent study, which is part of LEAF’s ongoing commitment to listening, adapting and improving, concluded that LEAF Marque goes beyond an environmental assurance system. Carried out by Mike Read Associates, the evaluation found that as well as providing added value to certified farmers in terms of increased gross margins, market opportunities, retailer engagement and earned recognition, LEAF Marque certification underpins all aspects of LEAF’s wider work.

As such, LEAF Marque is a powerful catalyst for mobilising advances in more sustainable, climate positive farming across the globe.

The release of the report’s findings has been timed to coincide with the launch of LEAF’s new 30@30 campaign, which celebrates the organisations landmark 30th anniversary. 30@30 is an extensive, year-long programme of activities, events and initiatives highlighting LEAF’s achievements, paying tribute to the many people and organisations it has worked with and setting out its future vision for developing and promoting more climate positive global farming and food systems.

The study sets out ways in which LEAF Marque contributes to the broader enabling environment of LEAF’s work, including:

o    Offering a robust, holistic core to farmers’ improvements, with third party assurance

o    Helping support farmers’ position and respect with retailers

o    Improving farm biodiversity, beauty and public image

o    Providing a community of like-minded farmers to learn from each other

o    Supporting risk and reputation management

o    Quantification and independent verification of continuous improvement

o    Increasing societal awareness of sustainable food production

While there were clear positive outtakes from the evaluation, there were also a number of key learnings, including growing recognition of the LEAF Marque logo and what it means, building on its carbon reduction offer, extending its range of support tools and expanding LEAF Marque’s reach into other sectors including dairy and livestock.

Tom Green, LEAF Marque chairman, said: “This is a vital time for sustainable farming.  Farmers are on the front line of climate change solutions – reducing carbon emissions, building healthier and more productive soils, delivering better air and water quality and enhancing biodiversity.  The findings of this study show that LEAF Marque certification is a powerful driver for change and provides an excellent route towards meeting the objectives of the 25-year Environment Strategy.

LEAF Marque also contributes to a number of Sustainable Development Goals and, in the light of post-Brexit negotiations, it clearly demonstrates the ‘public good’ provided by certified farmers and growers.   We are hugely encouraged by the conclusions of this study and the recognition it gives to the ever-increasing reach and impact of LEAF Marque, both in the UK and worldwide.   There is no doubt that LEAF Marque certification is bringing about real and lasting change in more sustainable and climate smart food production.”

Jennifer Clark, Assurance Manager at LEAF, added: “LEAF Marque certification is grounded in rigour and transparency; it is data driven and research led. Gaining insight into its impact is crucial for continuous improvement. Just as farms don’t stop improving once they become certified, we are also continually improving to keep up with global best practice.

We are committed to listening and adapting. This evaluation reinforces our view that every aspect of LEAF’s broader work is supported by LEAF Marque. It offers credibility, income and technical tools for farmers, supply chain actors and regulators.  Overwhelmingly, its message is one of transformation and positive change.  By working with farmers to reward and incentivise change, and with retailers and consumers to ensure a market for environmentally sustainable food, we are uniquely positioned to link landscape health with people’s lives and plates.”

To find out more about the LEAF independent evaluation, click here:

In March, LEAF announced the significant impact of LEAF Marque in its latest Global Impacts Report, with nearly half (45%) of the UK’s fruit and vegetables being grown by LEAF Marque certified businesses. LEAF’s Global Impacts Report is available here

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