AHDB agrees 'managed-wind down' of Horticulture and Potatoes

AHDB HQ, Stoneleigh Park. The wind-down programme is subject to a ministerial decision, expected summer 2021
AHDB HQ, Stoneleigh Park. The wind-down programme is subject to a ministerial decision, expected summer 2021

AHDB has agreed a programme of 'managed wind-down and transition of levy payer activities' for the horticulture and potato sectors during 2021-2022.

The levy organisation has announced that it had given the green light to a wind-down programme after a majority of horticultural and potato growers voted to end the statutory levies.

As part of the measures agreed on Wednesday (9 June), AHDB said the 2021/22 levy will continue to be collected during the financial year.

It will be publishing the levy rate 'in due course' after it has been approved by government ministers.

The organisation explained that it had to 'fund operational liabilities' associated with the wind-down contracts, people and assets.

AHDB said: "This means that some level of levy will be needed in 2021 to supplement sector reserves to cover these costs as the change is managed through.

"This wind-down programme will enable AHDB to calculate and set levy at the lowest possible rate."

The organisation also said that it was also making funding provision for current research programmes in Horticulture and Potatoes to the end of the research contract.

AHDB explained that 42 research contracts will end by March 2022.

Subject to a ministerial decision, the remaining research contracts and other technical work that is wanted by growers will be reviewed to 'ensure levy payers do not lose the value of their investment to date in these projects'.

All other activity for Horticulture and Potatoes during 2021/22 will be stopped at appropriate points in the growing season, AHDB said, and staffing levels will be 'managed accordingly' across the year.

In Potatoes, all new storage research at Sutton Bridge will 'stop from now onwards', with a 'limited' Knowledge Exchange service available until the end of May 2022.

AHDB said: "This will be to complete data and analysis work associated with the current trials programme and support for the industry for storage trials with alternative suppliers."

AHDB Horticulture and Potatoes work will be archived and made accessible online to levy payers by March 2022.

The wind-down programme is subject to a ministerial decision on the future of selected activities, which is expected by summer 2021.