SCOTTISH oat growers will be offered LEAF Marque certification from this month as part of a recognition of sustainably farmed products.

Scottish Quality Crops (SQC) has announced that the global assurance scheme, LEAF Marque certification, will be offered to its members alongside the annual audit from April 2023.

Delivered through its sole certification body, Food Integrity Assurance (FIA), this can, if required, be carried out jointly with other farm assurance schemes to avoid duplication.

The move will likely be significant for the 100 plus Scottish farmers growing for Quaker Oats, who are working towards becoming LEAF-Marque certified.

The global assurance scheme recognises more sustainably farmed products, as part of a partnership between PepsiCo and LEAF.

Managing director of SQC, Teresa Dougall, said: "One of the key asks of our members is to minimise the time and pressure of audits.

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"As part of this commitment to growers we are delighted to now be able to offer this service through FIA to streamline LEAF Marque audits into one assessment where possible.”

LEAF Marque is widely used and, in some cases, required by large retailers. It demonstrates the robust environmental and business commitment of individual business through Integrated Farm Management.

This is a whole farm approach that includes soil and water management, pollution control, energy efficiency, landscape conservation and community engagement.

Phil Skentelbery, certification body manager for LEAF Marque said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Scottish Quality Crops to deliver a more streamlined and joined up auditing process.

"We have a significant opportunity to deliver more sustainably grown oats to consumers, which will feed into the wider Scottish farming industries commitments towards reaching net zero and enhancing biodiversity.”

John Hutcheson, an oat grower and one of the founding members of producer organisation Oat Co, said ‘one hit audit’ was welcome.

“Customers are increasingly seeking to illustrate their environmental commitments," he said.

"The certification is currently for oats, but with whisky distillers also looking at this, it could in time extend across all cereals.”