The AHDB has announced a “managed wind-down” of its potatoes and horticulture work following industry votes to end statutory levies in the sectors – but growers will still have to fund the organisation during 2021-22.
A ministerial decision, expected this summer, will conclusively decide the future of the AHDB’s potato and horticulture activities after ballots earlier this year.
In the meantime, the AHDB says the levy will be required to fund operational liabilities as well as contributing to cross-sector activities. However growers have been told the levy will be set at the “lowest possible” rate.
Funding will be provided for current research programmes to the end of contracts, and 42 of these contracts will end by March 2022.
AHDB said: “Subject to a ministerial decision, the remaining research contracts and other technical work that is wanted and valued by growers, but might need a managed transition, will be reviewed to ensure levy payers do not lose the value of their investment to date in these projects.”
Otherwise all other activities for potatoes and horticulture during 2021-22 will be stopped at appropriate points in the growing season.
All new potato storage research at Sutton Bridge will stop, with a limited knowledge exchange service available until the end of May 2022. Events which are part of a contractual commitment will also go ahead, but all other events for levy payers will stop from the beginning of July.
AHDB says horticulture and potato work will be archived and made accessible online to levy payers by March 2022.
Regular communication with levy payers will be limited to essential notifications, potato storage results and emergency pest and diseases communications.
Meanwhile AHDB is in discussion with Defra, the devolved administrations, industry and levy payers about the possible transition of services to other providers, and interested companies, organisations or industry groups who are interested on taking on this work are asked to register their interest by emailing strategy director, Rob Clayton at firstname.lastname@example.org