Not expensive to take care of environment

18 April 1997

Not expensive to take care of environment

ENVIRONMENTAL care need not cost money – quite the opposite in fact, according to opinion at the launch of Linking Farming and Environments new audit.

Urging growers to take advantage of LEAFs more flexible self-assessment exercise, Ed Gallagher, chief executive of the Environment Agency issued a caution: "Be careful. Your profits could go up."

Environmental protection was synonymous with operational efficiency, added LEAF chairman, David Richardson.

Farmers had made remarkable progress in cutting point-source pollution, said Mr Gallagher. Diffuse source problems were the next target, which the good soil care and integrated crop management promoted by LEAF should counter.

NFU president, Sir David Naish, saw the audit as a valuable management tool, and a step towards the NFUs goal of quality assured production.

Need for assurance

Sir Richard George, chairman of Weetabix, said all food manufacturers took great interest in the source of their raw materials. "The LEAF audit does provide a means of getting that reassurance."

TV chef Michael Barry said environmental protection was increasingly viewed as good business. Were he farming, a LEAF audit would be his best guarantee in the face of tightening health and safety legislation, he added.

The new audit, priced £23.50 including VAT, comes in seven modules allowing users to concentrate on key areas and set targets as they see fit. They include:

lOrganisation and planning.

lSoil management and crop nutrition.

lCrop protection.

lPollution control and waste management.

lEnergy efficiency.

lLandscape and wildlife features.

lAnimal husbandry.

Other schemes tended to concentrate on the first three only, noted LEAFs Caroline Drummond.

The tick-box format poses key questions about current management policies. Once completed it is returned to LEAF, which produces a personal action sheet.

Mr Richardson countered criticism that LEAF went cap in hand to agrochemical manufacturers by noting that their contribution to funds was down to 17%. &#42

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