Survey says LEAF benefits farms and public

Membership of the Linking Environment & Farming (LEAF) scheme offers real benefits to farmers and growers, a study commissioned by LEAF and carried out by the Countryside & Community Research Institute (CCRI) has shown.

The study identified three main areas where farmers benefit from LEAF membership - financial, environmental and social.

For example, the amount saved by reducing fertiliser and chemical use ranged from £2,500 to £10,000 per farm. Implementing integrated farm management saved one farmer £14,000 on his water bill.

The report also showed that LEAF Marque accreditation can help members secure the best price for their produce and valuable retailer contracts. Also, by welcoming visitors to the farm through events and demonstrations, some farmers have increased their income from direct sales.

Dr Janet Dwyer of CCRI said: "LEAF membership enabled the farmers we interviewed to save money in several ways, such as by improving energy efficiency and reducing chemical and fertiliser use, without compromising output.

"But the value of LEAF goes much further, with most farmers highlighting social benefits and higher confidence. They also reported increased awareness of the environment on their farms, helping them to improve biodiversity, soil structure and water quality."

LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond added: "A key part of our role is to build public understanding and trust. It is really good, therefore, to see that so many farmers say LEAF membership has delivered more contact with the public and that 91 per cent say it has improved understanding of food and farming among the local community.

"LEAF's annual Open Farm Sunday has grown year on year, with more and more people visiting a farm to find out for themselves how their food is produced and to meet the farmers responsible. Our nationwide network of LEAF demonstration farms is also growing."

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