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Less than half of farm levy payers voted in AHDB consultation

A herd of cows eating hay in cowshed on dairy farm.
AHDB's GB-wide functions include work in the dairy sector.

Less than half of all eligible levy payers voted in the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) consultation.

The levy body – which has GB-wide functions for the cereals and oilseeds and dairy sectors, as well as covering the beef, lamb and pork sectors south of the border – ran a consultation to ask levy payers to vote on their priorities for the future and to score the areas of work it delivers.

It follows ballots last year, which resulted in horticulture and potato growers voting to abolish their statutory levies and AHDB having to wind-down its operations in those two sectors.

Results from the latest ballot show 42% of the eligible levy payers who registered to vote – representing 4,478 votes – shared their views.

AHDB‘s divisional director of engagement, Will Jackson, said receiving 4,500 votes from across the organisation’s four sectors shows the consultation was a very worthwhile process.

“Engagement to this degree in the industry is unprecedented,” added Mr Jackson.

Levy payers were asked if they agreed with the proposed priorities for each sector by ranking them in terms of importance, ranging from a low of one to a high of five.

The areas of work which scored the highest

AHDB said average scores ranged between 2.3 and 4.8 out of five and the priorities which scored the highest in terms of importance including protecting the reputation of the beef, lamb, dairy and pork sectors, and promoting benefits to consumers.

Levy payers supported work to promote the red meat and dairy sectors.

Other high-ranking areas of work included: supporting farmers to remain viable despite changes to farm support, profitability and productivity challenges in the cereals and oilseeds sector; and selling every part of the pig for the best financial return at home in the UK or abroad in the pork sector.

Levy payers also ranked AHDB work in terms of importance with the highest scores awarded to protecting and enhancing the reputation of the beef, lamb and dairy sectors, the Recommend List for the cereals and oilseeds sector, and using pork consumer marketing campaigns to help sell every part of the pig.

Mr Jackson said: “We have been encouraged by the comments and feedback received through this process, which will now trigger discussions and decisions about our work.”

He said AHDB’s various sector councils will spend time analysing and discussing the feedback and comments from the consultation, before agreeing and confirming the organisation’s future priorities with levy payers in October.

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