Fruit, vegetable and flower growers have less than three weeks left to decide on the future of a statutory levy for the horticulture sector.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which oversees the horticulture sector levy, is holding a ballot on the future of the levy.
The ballot, which closes on February 10, was triggered by the submission of more than 100 formal requests from growers for a vote on its continuation.
The requests were delivered to AHDB by a trio of disgruntled Lincolnshire growers, who are lobbying for a change in the way levies are collected and spent from the horticulture and potato sectors.
The trio is now urging all growers to make use of their vote to ensure their voices are heard.
“Whatever the outcome, for this vote to have real legitimacy, there needs to be a significant turnout and we urge every eligible grower in the UK to vote,” said vegetable and potato grower John Bratley, who is one of the three growers.
“Even those supporting the continuation of the levy have said that plans for reform (of AHDB), such as they are, would need to be put to a future vote.
“We believe growers should make the most of this opportunity and vote to abolish an organisation which is out of date, out of touch and struggling to come up with a meaningful agenda for reform.”
AHDB’s plans for reform, announced last month, include promises that those who pay a levy will have more influence on how much is collected and where it is spent.
The organisation has also committed to a ballot every five years on the future of the levy and the design of priorities and work programmes.
On its website, AHDB says its projected horticulture income for the 2020-21 financial year is £7.3 million, while its planned spend totals £8.9m, with more than two-thirds – 69% – going on research and knowledge exchange.
AHDB is also preparing to hold a ballot on the future of the statutory levy for the potato sector.