LEAF’s annual conference debates how industry can deliver Healthy Food and Farming Fit for the Future

Health was the central theme of LEAF’s (Linking Environment And Farming) annual conference which took place today at HSBC Headquarters in London. The conference, ‘Setting the Agenda: Healthy Food and Farming Fit for the Future’ explored how technology, science, innovation and strong public engagement will be critical to address some of the biggest issues facing our food and farming systems – namely, climate change, population growth and increasing public health issues. A wide range of speakers from across the food, farming and research sectors set out their vision of how to balance the competing pressures and demands on the global food system.

Dame Professor Anne Glover DBE, Vice Principal for External Affairs and Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission gave the keynote speech and set out her thoughts and solutions for ensuring policies and legislation for food and farming are firmly based on evidence. Dame Glover said: “The world’s population should expect access to sufficient healthy food produced without detriment to our environment. To meet this demand we need to cultivate open minds, imagination and innovation”.

Other speakers at the conference included:

· Meurig Raymond, President of the NFU who outlined his vision of how, through industry collaboration, we can ensure British farming businesses are fit for the future

· Judith Batchelar OBE, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand who highlighted how Sainsbury’s is working with farmers and supporting customers to bring about change

· Sara Eppel, Head, Innovative and Sustainable Farming at Defra who set out Defra’s thoughts on how the industry can help develop a 25 year Food and Farming plan

· Jake Freestone, LEAF Demonstration Farmer who explained how he is embracing innovation and technology, particularly in the area of soil management, to improve the long term sustainability of the farm business.

LEAF’s Chief Executive Caroline Drummond, MBE and Chairman Stephen Fell also spoke during the day.

Caroline said: “Over the last quarter of a century LEAF has been at the forefront of developing new horizons in sustainable farming through Integrated Farm Management. Deciding how to balance the competing pressures and demands on the global food system is a major task facing policy makers. We strongly believe that setting the agenda for meeting the needs of the future will hinge on innovation, cross industry collaboration, scientific advancements and strengthening public engagement. Ahead of LEAF’s 25th Anniversary in 2016, we will be looking to strengthen our partnerships across the food and farming sector to help deliver pragmatic and sustainable solutions that are resilient to future uncertainties. We’re delighted that so many industry leaders, LEAF members and farmers were able to join us today to discuss and debate the issues.”

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