As tattie producers start to cast votes which will decide the fate of the statutory AHDB Potatoes levy, the organisation has urgently organised a Scotland-specific virtual meeting to try to convince growers it gives value for money.
The levy board is currently under pressure to prove its worth to the potato industry after 61% of horticulture producers rejected the continuation of their sector’s levy earlier this week.
The AHDB’s so-called “town hall” meetings are already in full swing, and many Scottish seed producers turned out for the first of these events.
However, growers later complained the meeting focused too much on strategy and didn’t spend enough time answering questions.
The @AHDB_Potatoes ballot is now open.
To find out what a Yes vote might mean for you, visit https://t.co/cD4U8nTNAd to discover more.
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— AHDB (@TheAHDB) February 18, 2021
AHDB said the meeting for Scottish producers would be held on Microsoft Teams on Monday, from 1pm, and growers will be able to ask staff direct questions.
The organisation said: “The aim is to ensure levy payers are better informed before they cast their vote in the ballot.”
Participants will include members of the AHDB board including chairman Nicholas Saphir, potatoes chairwoman Alison Levett and strategy director Rob Clayton.
Patrick Hughes, the AHDB’s head of export trade development, and Claire Hodge, its senior knowledge exchange manager, will also be on hand to answer questions.
Mr Clayton said: “We would like to encourage all Scottish-based potato levy payers to join the meeting and make their vote count.”
Judging by the number of farmers and potato businesses who called for a levy ballot, there is clearly considerable dissatisfaction in the industry with the performance of AHDB Potatoes.
However, it also has supporters, including Jim Reid, who farms at Milton of Mathers in Angus, and is the current host of the AHDB’s SPot farm Scotland.
In AHDB’s press release, Mr Reid is quoted: “It’s the field trials we learn from the most.
“AHDB’s knowledge exchange managers are highly experienced and offer practical advice and support to help us trial different methods to address the key challenges we are faced with, such as the loss of diquat, to help us improve the way we farm.”
To register for the meeting, or any of the town hall-style events, visit ahdb.org.uk/events/scotland-and-the-potato-levy-an-open-conversation