LEAF Annual Conference 2015 - Live Blog
Setting the Agenda: Healthy Food and Farming Fit for the Future
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
27/10/15 Reverse order Timestamp format
Looking forward to #LEAFconf15.... Just a week to go!
Just a few days to go until this year's Annual Conference. The theme is 'Setting the Agenda: Healthy Food and Farming Fit for the Future'. We'll be live blogging here all day Tuesday and you can also follow all the discussion on Twitter by following #LEAFconf15
We're looking forward to our Annual Conference tomorrow - some amazing speakers lined up and there's sure to be some great debate. Join us here where we'll be blogging all day or follow #LEAFconf15 on Twitter
Today's the day... speakers at our Annual Conference include Dame Anne Glover CBE, Meurig Raymond (NFU), Sara Eppel (Defra), Jake Freestone (Overbury Farms) and Judith Batchelar OBE (Sainsbury's).
Today's guests will be enjoying a lunch of LEAF Marque produce. To find out more about LEAF Marque visit: http://www.leafuk.org/leaf/farmers/LEAFmarquecertification.eb
We'll be filming today's Annual Conference. Footage will be available on the site later this month.
Speakers are all ready to go and guests are arriving. Our conference kicks off soon..
We'd like to say a big thank you to HSBC for hosting our Annual Conference at their HQ in Canary Wharf.
And we're off. Allan Wilkinson, HSBC, kicks off the 2015 LEAF Annual Conference
We have real challenges ahead, says Allan.
Where do we see things in 20 years? asks Baroness Byford
There are huge opportunities out there, although times have been difficult for farmers.
Tom Heap, our chair for the day, is up next.
LEAF is a pragmatic organisation, says Tom
Thank you for braving the jubilee line! says LEAF Chairman Stephen Fell as he takes the stage
Supply and demand is a tough feature in the modern market place, says Stephen Fell
Our wonderful display of LEAF Marque produce shows what can be done with attention to detail and good marketing, says Stephen.
Sustainable farming is at the heart of our vision for a world that is farming eating and living sustainably.
At the start of the day LEAF President Baroness Byford asked where do we see things in 20 years?
I have great home that a revolution is underway to reeducate farmers on how to use our most precious asset - soil, says Stephen
Stephen Fell talks about the success of Open Farm Sunday:
There is a growing empathy between farmers and the general public.
The rapport between farmers and visitors on Open Farm Sunday is a wonderful achievement for LEAF and all its supporters.
Still to come... why science based evidence is key, what IFM looks like in action, and how retailers can work with farmers to bring about change... and so much more
We're delighted that Professor Dame Anne Glover DBE is up next.
Tom Heap says when introducing her...
That's a lot of titles!
Dame Glover opens with a tip:
If you want free hairdressing tell your hair dresser you're filming for the BBC!
Dame Glover says:
Farming is constantly changing to meet the needs of citizens. Farming of the 1950s is unrecognisable from the farming of today.
Dame Glover says:
We've got a strange attitude to food in the developed world. People are eating too much, while elsewhere in the world people are starving.
Dame Glover explains the value of food.
We can live without diamond rings; we can't live without food.
38% of European budget goes to agriculture and the rural environment.
By 2050 there will be a 70% increase in food demand.
Dame Glover says:
Our planet is increasingly under pressure. We have to meet demand sustainably.
People are dying for lack of food - we need to address this.
Dame Glover says:
Science and technology are part of our culture. We invented the modern world.
Only 13-18% of our land surface is naturally fertile.
Because of their knowledge scientists have a power that makes them dangerous. Who agrees?
Sitting back and doing nothing is not an option, says Dame Glover
Dame Glover says:
Planning ahead is vital. The most precious thing on our planet is food. We need to think about innovation.
Dame Glover says we need to invest :
We need research - and funding. In the UK we're good at being smart.
NFU President Meurig Raymond MBE is next up. He opens by saying:
Can I start by congratulating LEAF on their 25th Anniversary and for the continuing success of Open Farm Sunday.
It's vital we talk about the strength of our farming to consumers. The quality of our food is backed by excellent provenance,
Farmers are the bedrock in protecting our countryside.
Farmers can be trusted to deliver.
290k+ visitors to this year's Open Farm Sunday.
I'm incredibly proud of the effort farmers are making to enhance the environment - this is increasingly critical for the future.
Growth for growth's sake has no place in a strategy for the future of farming... and neither does growth at any price.
UK farmers have become more efficient - reducing input use by about 20% since the 1990s
Meurig Raymond echoes Anne Glover's sentiment that investment in research is vital.
Productivity growth is not the enemy of the environment.
The more efficient a farm business becomes the more resilient and successful it will be.
Meurig highlights the importance of technology advances in farming:
Auto steer on technology has been a revelation.
Meurig talks about the NFU's plan for farming:
The NFU plan will highlight the challenges but also the opportunities - for each sector.
747 farmers have left the dairy industry since January 2014.
We need a government that champions British farming and encourages innovation.
85% of consumers in the UK want to see more British food on supermarket shelves (YouGov)
Sara Eppel, Head of Innovative and Sustainable Farming, Defra, is next up to talk about their 25 year Food and Farming plan
Industry need to buy in to our plan.
The brand of British food is well respected because of: our heritage, beautiful countryside, animal welfare standards, environmental standards.
Every farmer in this country has to meet basic environmental standards.
Over the past few years we've learned what works really well when it comes to environmental schemes.
Productivity in farming is vastly different from one end of the food chain to the other. Reducing inputs (total business costs) and increasing outputs is key.
The top 10% of our farmers produce double from a £100 investment than the bottom 10% do.
Sara says skills are key :
We are pushing on apprenticeships but it goes beyond this.
Communication and collaboration is key says Sara Eppel, Defra:
Sharing of best practice is a key focus.
£2.6 billion will be spent on environmental schemes in farming (CAP 2014-20)
Sara says, you don't have to be a big farm to do best.
There are plenty of successful smaller farms.
Questions now to our panel of speakers. Tom Heap starts by asking if CAP is too much of a cushion...
A healthy debate now on where energy fits (or should fit) into any future farming strategy
Anne Glover on biofuels:
It's not always possible to change policy quickly.
Q. How can the scientific community help the public to deal with risk in a useful way?
Anne Glover says the way statistics are reported by the media can be misleading - the recent red meat articles being a case in point. Scientists can help make things clear.
A quick break for coffee...Up next LEAF Demonstration farmer Jake Freestone, Judith Batchelar OBE, Sainsbury's, and our Chief Executive Caroline Drummond MBE
Jake Freestone is going to talk about IFM in practice...
It always seems impossible until it is done. (Nelson Mandela via Jake Freestone)
Jake is using pictures of one field to talk about all nine aspects of Integrated Farm Management
It's all about efficiency.
80% of energy we use in cultivation is used to remove previous work we've done to those fields
Earthworms can produce between 4 and 6 tonnes of excreted material per hectare
Through IFM we have more nutrient availability in soil
Jake on Animal Husbandry:
We need to get more livestock on our fields. but the methods we use to do this need to be profitable in their own way.
Jake also says research is needed - a popular theme today:
We have a huge opportunity by harnessing biology...
Cover crops are key to making the whole system work
Jake says we need to reach out not only to consumers but to the farming community too
Social media is key.
Up next: Judith Batchelar OBE, Director of Sainsbury's Brand
Our strapline is Eat Well for Less. We would like our customers to live longer.
70% of people will be living in cities by 2050. From a total world population of 9 billion.
We are the second cheapest place in the world to feed ourselves - food relative to disposal income has never been cheaper.
Who is making the health choices? Judith says:
Most of the health benefits we've seen have been driven by stealth, not by positive consumer choice.
80% of shopping baskets stay the same week after week
Soil to landfill: We need to understand the end to end value chain says Judith Batchelar
LEAF's Chain of Custody is a valuable insight tool.
Value isn't just about price, says Judith:
You can always buy something cheaper elsewhere.
Soil health, plant health, animal health and human health are all inextricably linked says Judith:
You can't have one without the other - it wouldn't be sustainable
Judith Batchelar on Big Data:
We've got more data than ever before but we need to analyse and understand it and use it to provide foresight as well as hindsight.
Consumers want to do the same things such as drink fizzy drinks - but they want them to be healthier.
Judith finishes by saying:
LEAF is well placed to meet the challenges ahead.
No introduction needed for Caroline Drummond says Tom Heap...
Over the last 50 years the global diet has shifted dramatically
Caroline explains why health is so important:
Children as young as five are having their teeth pulled out because they're so rotten.
Diversity in the diet is key says Caroline (at the exact point the LEAF Marque lunch is wheeled into the room!)
31.8% of farmers believe sustainability is key for driving their business
33 countries across the globe with LEAF Marque producers
LEAF Marque is crucial - to integrate into everything LEAF does over the next 25 years.
1.6million people have visited an Open Farm Sunday event since it launched in 2006
We want to inspire and enable people. Healthy farming is key.
We're looking to build on the past 25 years
An absolutely amazing lunch.
Now we're all suitably fed it's time for a Q and A session to debate the issues raised this morning
There's a difference between planning policy and planning implementation says Sara Eppel
Soil is not a sexy subject
Dame Glover says:
Further education colleges have a role to play in training scientists for the future.
Debating the skills shortage in agriculture and science...
Tom Heap asks do farmers really care about soil or is it all about the next harvest?
Andrea Graham from NFU says yes they do - passionately.
Farmers do care but whether they know the latest tech on how to treat the soils - that is the question says Jake Freestone
Soil quality is being embedded in tenancy agreements says Andrea Graham, NFU
Soil may not be a sexy subject but it's certainly a fascinating one that has got the debate going full flow
Duncan Farrington says farmers' knowledge is on the increase
Are LEAF willing to make a few 'enemies' on subjects like pesticide or neonics? asks Duncan FarringtonCaroline Drummond: We are always willing to debate these issues and will continue to do so. In 25 years the pressures will be higher.
Stephen Fell: If we've got justification and it is based on good science - then yes we will make a stand
Anne Glover: we need the data to make the right decisions
Andrea Graham, NFU: We will continue to listen to farmers. Farmers understand their businesses
Sara Eppell: the evidence suggests that unfortunately many don't.
Caroline Drummond: using LEAF tools such as LEAF Audit and Sustainable Farming Review means that we can benchmark farming efficiency
Next up ... GM crops
Caroline Drummond: We have always supported GM as one of the tools in the box for the right situation. The challenge is communicating its acceptability
Jake Freestone: there is no point growing something customers won't buy
Sara Eppel: there is a lot of research and technologically going on - not all of which is GM
We asked earlier are scientists dangerous - Tom Heap says they can be.
Anne Glover tells him he's dangerous too - he's a journalist!
A comment from the floor... We are already doing GM in medicine
Sara Eppel has been asked why (some) environmentalists 'hate' farmers. She says: There is an assumption that increased productivity does not equal increased environmental care which is not the case. But there will always be areas where they are widely opposed.
Sara adds: There isn't always enough evidence on cause and effect of certain issues
Caroline Drummond says: We shouldn't get too cosy. We need to be challenged in order to make change
There is a real opportunity to drive and build LEAF Marque.
Farmers need support.
We don't value the environment in the same way we value price. We need a currency for the environment.
You can do fantastic farming and fantastic work for the environment and you can do this together.
Tom Heap asks Jake Freestone - would you be interested in growing produce grown specifically for it's health benefits?
Jake says definitely - but it is not always possible to pass the costs on to consumers
Fabulous debate as always... Passion in the room highlighting passion in the industry
The Rt Hon Michael Jack CBE agrees - he uses the word passion straight away in his closing remarks
Farmers should read The Grocer says Michael Jack. It gives insights into the consumers mind and the food industry
Michael Jack: There is hope for organisations like LEAF, integrating healthy food and healthy farming.
Michael Jack: Through Open Farm Sunday we have an opportunity to reach consumers - not just those on the farm on the day but through publicity too
Michael Jack: people are interested in food - the success of the Great British Bake Off shows that. LEAF has a role to play as ambassadors of the food and farming industry.