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LEAF Marque Standard v16.1: What You Need To Know

The new version of the LEAF Marque Standard is here: find out the most important updates and how to become certified.

The LEAF Marque Standard received an important update this year. In April 2023, version 16.0 came into effect, followed by v16.1 in September.

What is the LEAF Marque Standard?

The LEAF Marque Standard is an environmental scheme based on nine Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles, which are developed and maintained by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), a UK-based not-for-profit organization.

The LEAF Marque certification allows fresh produce, arable and livestock farmers to demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainable practices and to have access to the growing number of retailers (including Tesco, Lidl GB, and ASDA) that are adopting LEAF Marque as a required scheme for their suppliers.

The IFM principles of the LEAF Marque Standard are:

  • Effective organization and planning
  • Good soil husbandry for long-term fertility
  • Protection of crops from weeds, pests, and disease
  • Management of pollution and by-products
  • Optimization of animal health and welfare
  • Efficient use of energy
  • Efficient use of water and improvement of water quality
  • Conservation of the surrounding natural landscape and wildlife
  • Engaging with the local community

These IFM principles are divided into control points (CP), with each CP having several verification steps. Control points can be either Essential or Recommended. The first are required for compliance with the scheme; the latter are not mandatory but indicate best practices that might become Essential in future versions. Additionally, some of the CPs are flagged as Not-Applicable in situations specified within the standard.

The three key aspects of the LEAF Marque standard

  • It covers the whole farm

    The LEAF Marque Standard applies to all products, land, and activities within the control of the farming business.
  • It’s outcome-based

    Rather than indicating specific practices, the Standard establishes outcomes (such as building resilience and reducing GHG emissions), leaving it up to each farming business to take the most relevant actions.
  • It requires a management plan

    Each IFM principle (except for the first and the last one) is required to have a management plan in place. Its purpose is to connect the outcomes of the Standard to specific practices and monitoring activities to achieve them, as well as setting targets for future improvement.

Essential steps to become LEAF Marque-certified

Have a baseline certification

To become LEAF Marque-certified, LEAF requires farming businesses to already have a baseline certification with one of the following standards:

  • Red Tractor
  • OHAS (Ornamental Horticulture Assurance Scheme)
  • Lion Eggs (British Lion Quality Code of Practice)
  • NIBL (Northern Ireland Beef & Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme)
  • FAWL (Farm Assured Welsh Livestock)
  • SQC (Scottish Quality Cereals)
Collaboration breeds resilience in sustainability. Through the LEAF Marque Standard's emphasis on partnering with farmers and research organizations, we cultivate a tapestry of shared expertise, weaving together innovative solutions that cultivate a greener, more interconnected future for agriculture.

Lisa Kennedy
Senior Specialist Agriculture

Become a LEAF member

You can join the organization directly online at this page.

Get in touch with NSF

As a LEAF-approved certification body, NSF will guide you through all the steps from the initial assessment to the final audit.

What's new in version 16.0?

Version 16.0 of the LEAF Marque Standard was published in April 2023 (more than three years after v15) and contains changes to several control points. These changes are of three types:

  • Newly added Essential CPs
  • Newly added Recommended CPs
  • New Essential CPs resulting from an upgrade of existing Recommended CPs

The most notable new Essential CPs of v16.0 (either newly added or upgraded) require farms to:

  • Assess the risk of extreme weather events and outline strategies for responding to them
  • Measure soil health at least annually
  • Set up an animal feed audit (e.g., sources and composition) and an action plan to minimize waste of feed and/or nutrients
  • Measure and analyze the efficiency of water use
  • Monitor at least one representative species or habitat on the farm
  • Convert natural ecosystems for agricultural use only when that is compliant with national and/or global commitments and causes minimal negative environmental impact
  • Manage protected and/or high conservation value areas appropriately
  • Take actions to protect neighboring businesses and residents from exposure to agrochemicals

Some of the new Recommended CPs include:

  • Fostering collaboration with other stakeholders, such as farmers and research organizations
  • Informing neighboring residents when agrochemicals are applied
  • Conducting an annual waste audit and preparing a waste action plan
  • Using a carbon footprint measuring tool

What changed in version 16.1?

Version 16.1 of the LEAF Marque Standard came into effect on September 1, 2023. It contains a small but significant change, whereby the baseline certification (one of the prerequisites of the scheme) is now required only for those products that need to be LEAF Marque-certified, and not for the whole farming business.

For example, a farm that includes vegetables and livestock and is only interested in earning a LEAF Marque certification for its vegetable products, will no longer be required to have a baseline certification for livestock too. This change, however, won’t affect the scope of the LEAF Marque Standard and audit, which still include the whole farming business.

Champion sustainable agriculture by getting your LEAF Marque certification. Align with the latest v16.1 standards to showcase your dedication to responsible farming and environmental excellence. With expert guidance from NSF, you can navigate the certification process with ease and take a step towards a greener future. Contact NSF and begin your LEAF Marque certification journey now.

Learn more about LEAF Marque certification

Prove your commitment to sustainability with LEAF Marque certification.
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