Environmental assurance system LEAF Marque has today announced that the latest version of its standard will come into effect on January 1, 2020.

The new ‘version 15.0’ includes changes in four key areas: Animal husbandry; soil health; biodiversity; and community engagement.

Its global relevance has been strengthened to reflect different production systems and steps taken to ensure consistency in language and a greater emphasis on continual improvement and efficiency throughout.

The publication of the standard on October 1, 2019, followed a two-year public consultation process involving a broad sweep of interested parties, from LEAF members, farmers, scientists to environmental organisations, governments, commercial partners and members of the public.

Commenting, LEAF Marque chairman, Tom Green said: “We are committed to delivering more sustainable farming through a credible, market-based, independent, evidence-based assurance system.

“Our aim is to drive forward stronger connections between farmers, consumers and the wider supply chain. We are really proud of the changes we have made to the Standard – strengthening key areas around livestock, our global relevance, nature and landscape enhancement and soil health.

Assurance systems, such as LEAF Marque, are bringing about real and lasting change to the sustainability of our global food production systems.

“They help to drive forward continual improvement and empower farmers to embrace innovation and new technology. They also play an important role in shining a spotlight on achievements across the farming sector.

“As we look to develop new trading relationships with our EU partners and beyond, coupled with the UK Government’s drive to reward farmers for the range of public goods they deliver, there is no doubt that LEAF Marque certified farmers will be in a strong position to take advantage of future opportunities.”

Jenny Clark, assurance manager at LEAF, added: “The LEAF Marque Standard will never stand still. As industry practices and scientific understanding change over time, so our Standard needs to evolve too.

This latest version of the Standard is the result of valuable input from our members and stakeholders including academics, fellow NGO’s, government, industry and members of the public.

“But LEAF Marque certification is not an end in itself. It is through the drive, determination and commitment to more sustainable farming of our growers across the globe that are making change happen. We thank them all.”