Memorandum submitted by Linking Environment
and Farming (LEAF) (A26)
We are writing in response for the call for
the inquiry on the future of UK agriculture: Farming beyond subsidies.
Our experience at LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) is principally
based around your second area for consultation: how better stewardship
of agricultural land can be promoted.
We have 10.5 years' experience of developing
and promoting Integrated Farm Management, through the development
of technical management tools, including the LEAF Audit and the
Handbook for Integrated Farm Management, and the setting up of
Demonstration Farms throughout the UK. As an organisation we have
worked through networking, collaborating and taking a practical
approach as to what specific issues farmers can practically incorporate
into their businesses.
Our membership represents some 15 per cent of
the cropped area in the UK and with 40 of these commercial farmers
demonstrating Integrated Farm Management into practice we have
shown how farmers can adopt and adapt their businesses to meet
the needs of their own enterprises, the environment and those
of the citizen within us all.
Among our demonstration farmers and members
we also have fresh produce growers, representing a sector that
has not been supported by subsidies and has strived to address
market needs. These growers add a strong message to our activities.
We would happily highlight and clarify some
of our experiences that work as a realistic approach for encouraging
better stewardship of agricultural land, including case studies
from our farmers.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with
us if we can be of any help.
LEAF IN BRIEFLINKING
"LEAF is committed to a viable agriculture
which is environmentally and socially acceptable and ensures the
continuity of supply of wholesome, affordable food while conserving
and enhancing the fabric and wildlife of the British countryside
for future generations."
LEAF is committed to a prosperous farming industry
throughout the UK, one which results in a viable rural community,
a thriving countryside and feeds the consumer with safe, assured
food of the highest quality and taste.
The uptake of Integrated Farm Management (IFM)
represents an economically and environmentally viable option for
all types of farmers, regardless of their farm location, and their
skills, knowledge and personal motivation.
A fundamental challenge for the implementation
of IFM and sustainable agriculture is that farmers cannot go it
alone. Resource management that is both productive and sustainable
requires all the users to work together for their common good.
Such group action is a prerequisite for long-term success. It
also becomes the mechanism for forging links between farmers and
the wider rural community. Better information flows between all
actors are components for an adaptive sustainable agriculture.
LEAF is a charity helping farmers improve their
environment and business performance and create a better public
understanding of farming through a nation-wide network of demonstration
farms and the development of technical management tools.
LEAF hosts visits to these demonstration farms
for both farmers and invited groups of non-farmers to raise the
awareness, understanding and uptake of IFM and show how many farmers
are responding to current concerns.
LEAF supports farmers by providing them with
the appropriate management tools. This includes the LEAF Audit,
a detailed self-assessment, whole farm business plan of their
farm. This helps them to set targets to improve their businesses
while enhancing the environment. The Government uses the LEAF
Audit as one of its pilot indicators of sustainability. Other
technical information includes guidelines and case studies on
IFM. LEAF also organises workshops, discussion forums and field
daysall designed to help farmers understand the principles
of IFM and how to put it into practice on their own farms.
LEAF is a founding member of a pan-European
organisationthe European Initiative for the Sustainable
Development of Agriculture (EISA?), working throughout Europe
to develop and promote responsible farming practicesIFM.
LEAF is a founding member of the Integrated
Arable Crop Production Alliance (IACPA) encouraging the uptake
and dissemination of the research partners in the alliance.
WHAT LEAF HAS
1. Establishing strong networks to work
together to form new ideas. LEAF has considered issues in great
depth and with a wide range of organisations to agree on a consensus
2. Ensuring best technology and information
transfer. Through using farmers as advocates of the principles
of IFM LEAF has encouraged many farmers to consider developing
their own farming systems and making change.
3. Seeing is believing. Through working
with commercial farmers and addressing the whole suite of issues
that farmers face, LEAF's approach has allowed farmers to see
how different principles can fit into their own practices. LEAF
has also encouraged a wide range of non-farmer groups on to the
farms to find out how many farmers are making changes and seek
ideas for further addressing their concerns.
4. Through the better attention to details
demanded of the principles of IFM LEAF has shown that by: reducing
risk, fine tuning your business and taking a well thought out
approach profit and environmental protection and enhancement go
5. Through working with many organisations
and assurance schemes setting standards for food safety, quality
insurance and environmental performance. LEAF believes that it
is important for farmers to regain the trust of the consumer and
that the assurance schemes are part of that reassurance.
Some Facts in Brief
For the Farming Industry
There are 40 demonstration farms to date.
LEAF has over 2,000 farmer members representing
over 15 per cent of the cropped land areaof these there
are: 79 per cent with owner occupier land; 39 per cent tenanted
and 97 per cent of the farmers have an arable enterprise 48 per
cent field vegetables and 30 per cent livestock.
LEAF is currently developing its activities
in the livestock sector.
LEAF together with BASIS, set up the BASIS/LEAF
ICM training course over 1,115 advisers have done this course,
encouraging a consistent standard in the advice given on ICM across
LEAF has hosted visits for over 80,000 visitors
during the last 10 years. Of these 50 per cent will be farmers.
While not all these farmers have joined LEAF they are influenced
by the enthusiasm and formalised approach the demonstration farmers
LEAF staff and farmers have given over 1,000
farmer talks over the last 10 years. This has ranged from small
local groups to European and at International conferences.
LEAF has spoken with and met over 50,000 farmers
through visits, talks and at the shows.
For the non-farmers
A recent study showed that 25 per cent of non-farmers
have heard of ICM.
Some 40,000 invited individuals have visited
LEAF Demonstration Farms. These represent groups such as the WI,
Friends of the Earth, teachers, MP's, MEP's, journalists etc.
In 2001 LEAF developed Your Virtual Farm
Walk an interactive visit to a LEAF Demonstration Farm on
a CD-rom, as an alternative to a visit to the real farmsbut
without getting your boots muddy!
"A whole farm policy aiming to provide
efficient and profitable production which is economically viable
and environmentally responsible. It integrates beneficial natural
processes into modern farming practices using the most appropriate
technology and aims to minimise the environmental risks while
conserving, enhancing and recreating that which is of environmental
At LEAF we recognise that, in order to implement
a system, such as Integrated Farm Management people must be involved.
And to achieve a long term, sustained change they must be informed,
instructed, supported, advised, convinced and influenced, as appropriate.
It is also essential to evaluate the effectivenesspeople
must be asked the right questions, and their answers interpreted,
to provide feedback from the interested parties on policies and
their implementation. At LEAF we aim to achieve all these through
collaborating, networking, monitoring and benchmarking.
It is also important to:
understand the information people
need to help make decisions;
ensure that unbiased information
is available to them; and
advise and help support decision
In the UK the framework for developing a sustainable
system is established, but there is a need for more collaboration.
In order to implement, energise and make change, vision, effective
communication and an on-going research programme is essential.
Many farmers are confident and proud of their efficient, safe
farming systems with a strong commitment to the environment. However,
it is crucial for trust to be build up among farmers, regulators
and government to make the changes needed to further encourage
a sustainable farming approach.
1. LEAF represents over 2,000 members, including
farmers managing over 708,000 hectares, key companies in the food
and farming sector and a number of leading environmental organisations.
They all believe that Integrated Farm Management (IFM) is the
best way of helping farmers maintain the competitiveness of their
businesses whilst protecting and enhancing the environment in
the production of safe food and fibre and countryside management.
2. LEAF encourages the development and promotion
of IFM in the UK. LEAF works closely with farmers, advisers, consumers,
environmentalists and those in the industry on practical solutions
to real problems. LEAF is about action and is active in encouraging
farmers to challenge their businesses and adopt a system of farming
that balances the needs of consumers for safe, healthy food grown
with care for the environment and with the needs of farmers for
a profitable farm business.
3. LEAF believes that a healthy farming
community goes hand in hand with a thriving countryside. Thus
LEAF works to improve the efficiency of farm businesses through
getting people together to exchange information and build links
and partnerships. This includes the wide uptake of technical guidelines
on IFM and the LEAF Audit, encouraging self-criticism and continuous
improvement in business performance, crop and animal husbandry
and environmental care.
4. LEAF is working with farmers, consumers,
environmentalists and those in the food industry to build confidence
throughout the industry. It is only through networking, collaboration
and partnerships that change can be made. LEAF is encouraging
this change through open debate, creating a better understanding
of countryside matters and building confidence.
5. LEAF has the ability and 10 years' experience
in drawing together all aspects of rural life to develop a sustainable
future for farmers and the countryside.
6. LEAF works closely with Government throughout
Europe to develop policy solutions, which increase the competitiveness
of our farmers and improve our countryside.
14 December 2001