Leading Harvest is a coalition of public and private leaders from conservation, investment, agriculture, and research brought together to build a rigorous yet flexible sustainability standard. With such diverse soils, crops and farming operations across the country, the freedom to innovate is key to the standard. A third-party auditor ensures transparency assurance for the end-use consumer.
Standard users believe landowners and producers have a responsibility to protect farmland for today and future generations. This means meeting today’s demands for food, fuel and fiber production while also protecting our rural communities and collective natural resources. They seek to apply regional agricultural best management practices on managed farmland and promote regenerative practices to advance sustainable agriculture.
Consistent with these responsibilities, Standard users shall have a written policy (or policies) demonstrating their commitment to implement and achieve the following principles:
To practice sustainable agriculture to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This means practicing a farmland stewardship ethic that integrates profitable agricultural production with efficient use of inputs; the conservation of natural resources, including farmland; attention to climate change and land rights; and consideration for tenants, employees, contract workers, Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
To maintain or enhance long-term soil health and soil productivity and to protect soil from degradation.
To conserve and protect groundwater and surface water resources by managing impacts from water use and runoff.
To ensure long-term crop productivity by appropriate use of crop protectants while protecting the environment.
To increase use of energy-efficient agricultural practices and equipment and to minimize atmospheric emissions.
To promote the efficient production of agricultural products and to minimize waste by seeking other uses of waste.
To manage farmland in a manner that maintains agricultural production while conserving biological diversity—including animal and plant species, wildlife habitats and natural or ecological community types—and avoids habitat conversion.
To manage farmland that is geologically or culturally important in a manner that considers its unique qualities.
To contribute to the economy and well-being of rural communities through jobs, local purchases, other contributions, efforts to maintain community health and safety, and by respecting land and resource rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.
To provide a safe and respectful working environment, fair compensation and training for employees; contract management company employees; and farm labor necessary to improve the practice of sustainable agriculture.
To comply with applicable federal, state and local agricultural and related laws, statutes and regulations.
To continually improve the practice of agricultural management and to monitor, measure and report performance in achieving the commitment to sustainable agriculture.
To promote the application of regional agricultural best management practices on tenant-operated farmland.