LEADING Harvest has announced its official launch in Australia with program partners across all six states representing 540,000ha of agricultural land and 21 crop types, to implement a world-leading sustainability standard.
Australian participants include Altora Ag, Australian Food and Fibre, Southern Premium Vineyards, and Stahmann Webster, all fully or partly owned by Canada’s PSP, as well as Manulife Investment Management, goFARM Australia, Warakirri Asset Management, and RRG Capital Management.
Leading Harvest is a US-based non-profit organisation implementing what it states as being a world-first sustainability assurance program designed to harmonise sustainability reporting across crops and regions.
It provides growers and their customers with a universal certification through its Farmland Management Standard, which standardises sustainability verification and reporting across the industry.
This helps to resolve inefficiencies faced by those in the supply chain looking to provide sustainability assurances.
Leading Harvest president and CEO Kenny Fahey said FMS offered a single approach for producers across the industry.
“The overarching mission for our program in Australia, consistent with our strategy in the US and globally, is to harmonise the sustainability reporting landscape to create more efficiency for producers, more transparency for consumers and the supply chain, and to improve environmental and social outcomes,” Mr Fahey said.
“It’s clear that there is a real need for a product like the Farmland Management Standard and the kind of engagement Leading Harvest facilitates within the supply chain.
“We are excited to be launching at scale in Australia with 540,000ha enrolled and look forward to continuing this momentum around the world.
“We are greatly appreciative of the companies that helped pilot our program in Australia and are now enrolling with us at launch.
“The process over the past year of piloting confirmed the need for a standard that both demonstrates the great sustainability work currently being undertaken and also drives a process for continuous improvement in one, comprehensive certification that satisfies the demands of the market.”
Designed for Australian conditions
The Australian pilot was facilitated on Leading Harvest’s behalf by Mutual Trust, which was founded in 1921 by the Baillieu brothers, and is Australia’s largest multi-family office, with members of the Michell, Myer and Yates families among those on its board.
The launch comes off the back of a 12-month pilot program that included participants that spanned farmland production across Australia, all of whom contributed to the testing and development of the Australian Farmland Management Standard.
Mutual Trust’s CEO and managing partner Phil Harkness said the FMS was unique to Australia and reflected the agronomic, regulatory, and operating realities of the region.
“We understand that the Leading Harvest initiative provides a much-needed third-party sustainability assurance solution that the Australian agricultural market demands,” Mr Harkness said.
The FMS addresses the following sustainability principles:
- Sustainable agriculture;
- Soil health and conservation;
- Protection of water resources;
- Protection of crops;
- Energy use, air quality and climate change;
- Waste and material management;
- Conservation of biodiversity;
- Protection of special sites;
- Local communities;
- Employees and farm labour;
- Legal and regulatory compliance;
- Management review and continual improvement; and,
- Tenant-operated operations.
During the pilot, Leading Harvest engaged in an outreach campaign with companies across the supply chain and industry groups to bring awareness to the initiative.
Several other organisations directly involved in the pilot were Rabobank, farm-management software company Conservis, and New Agriculture, the newly formed subsidiary of New Forests, a global investment manager of nature-based real assets and natural capital strategies.
Source: Leading Harvest