Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF)

Grants and Contracts Details


Project Need The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has developed guidelines for sustainability called the "Five Pillars": Natural Resources, Community, Animal and Welfare, Food, Innovation and Efficiency. McDonald's, which is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, recently finished a sustainability pilot project demonstrating the ability to purchase beef using these guidelines. Moreover, this project was verified as sustainable through all stops in the supply chain by a third party. The purpose of this pilot project was to provide transparency and accountability regarding the sustainability of the McDonalds brand. Foreseeing that pilot projects like these may go mainstream, we would like to prepare Kentucky's beef producers for these market requirements. To this end, we are developing a training and environmental verification program, based on the Five Pillars, called Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF). Project Work Plan (How are you accomplishing your objectives?) The LEAF program is a voluntary program that identifies a beef operation's environmental risks and strengths through an on farm assessment and creation of a LEAF Plan. Farmers will find that through the implementation of their plan, an increase in their operational efficiency while reducing farming costs. The program will also demonstrate how production practices and the environment work together and how to measure progress towards meeting requirements of the LEAF Program. Beef operations that participate will undergo an initial farm assessment to help create a baseline of their operation and to identify specific indicators, which need improvement and the means they could use to accomplish LEAF program requirements. An indicator scoring system will be used to rank operations and their progress. Farm assessments will identify areas that require improvement. Typically, correcting identified issues lead to increased production efficiencies and environmental stewardship, while reducing the drudgery of farming on livestock and operators. Farm maps and implementation plans will be used to describe how suggested changes could improve the utilization of pastures, structures, and labor. These planning stages in essence represent the LEAF Plan. The plan will outline the Five Pillars of Sustainability and the resources or assets the operation already has in place that fit within the model. The plan will also identify areas of concern that should be addressed to achieve Five Pillar success. This program requires multiple farm visits and working "one on one" with the producer to help them implement their LEAF Plan. Obviously, given the time that it takes to evaluate an operation, plan, and implement practices, this will be a multi-year program. Once the farmer has received the LEAF Plan, identified areas of concern, and worked towards implementing solutions to those areas, we will conduct follow up visits to verify that the operation is implementing those changes, as well as fine-tune and identify new concerns, which should be addressed. We believe this program is the first step to demonstrate to consumers, communities, and lenders that beef producers are proactive and willing to demonstrate that their farming operation is sustainable based on the Five Pillars. We further believe the LEAF verification process will ensure that beef production, on cooperating farms, is being conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner. This type of program has the potential to make Kentucky's beef producers more competitive and viable, and may provide them with the ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the marketplace.
Effective start/end date10/1/1612/31/18


  • KY Department of Environmental Protection


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