LEAF Marque has introduced remote assessments for its farmer members, rolling out a new protocol, in partnership with its independent certification bodies, which took effect from May 1.

The move to go digital will enable LEAF Marque certified businesses across the globe to retain their status as producing more environmentally sustainable produce.

Assurance manager Jenny Clark said: “The health and wellbeing of our LEAF Marque growers and auditors is really important to us, as is the continued production of environmentally sustainable food.

While the coronavirus pandemic is the most pressing issue the world is facing at the moment, the climate change crisis has not gone away.

“By developing the remote assessment protocol, in consultation with our farmer members, certification bodies, accreditation bodies and other assurances schemes in the UK and overseas, we can maintain the integrity and robustness of the LEAF Marque system whilst keeping everybody safe.”

Relevant documentation must be submitted in advance via the LEAF Marque Remote Audit Data Room, with the assessment then carried out using a video platform such as WhatsApp, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom.

If this is not possible, the audit can involve a phone call supplemented by the business providing documentary and photo/video evidence.

There may be some cases where remote audits are deemed inappropriate; in these cases, certificate extensions of up to six months are available to all LEAF Marque certified businesses on a case-by-case basis.

Producers who have successful remote audits under this protocol will not be required to have an additional physical assessment outside of their normal LEAF Marque audit cycle.

Certification bodies will be contacting members whose LEAF Marque inspection will be affected by the pandemic.