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Potato and horticulture levies to end as AHDB undergoes reform

Farmers voted overwhelmingly to reject the continuation of the potato and horticulture levies.

The UK and devolved governments have finally agreed to abolish the statutory AHDB levy for the potato and horticulture sectors.

The confirmation comes a year after producer ballots overwhelmingly rejected the continuation of the levy body and follows an industry-wide consultation which has resulted in fundamental reforms to AHDB.

The changes include a new regular vote for farmers in the remaining sectors who will get to decide how their levy money is spent.

The governments say the reforms being implemented will enhance accountability and value for money for producers across the UK, and ensure the organisation is focused on delivering sectors’ priorities.

Some horticultural research will continue until April 2023.

In a joint statement the governments said: “We trust that a reformed and more accountable AHDB will be effective in supporting the delivery of our shared ambitions for a sustainable and competitive agriculture sector, and will help farmers identify innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions, improve productivity, as well as confidence in exploring new market opportunities.”

They also confirmed that an industry-led levy will continue to fund important horticultural research and development and crop protection activities.

The work will be paid for by AHDB reserves and the services will continue until April 2023.

However, the governments insist a longer term approach will need to be agreed in future.

NFU Scotland’s (NFUS) policy manager David Michie welcomed the continuation of the pesticide authorisation work. and said the union is working with seed potato grower members to set up a new body to develop and support the sector.

NFU Scotland policy manager David Michie.

Commenting on the commitment to a regular vote, the union added: “AHDB must be accountable to the levy payers who fund it, and this vote should be the mechanism that provides this accountability.

“That process is underway and NFUS urges dairy and combinable crop members to register for this vote to ensure their voice is heard.”

The AHDB says its “Shape The Future” consultation gives the industry a say on the challenges it wants the body to focus on and a chance to influence how the levy is spent.

Producers can access the consultation and influence how their levy is spent by visiting https://ahdb.org.uk/shape-the-future

Registration closes at 12 noon on March 31.

 

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