Government seeks farmers' views on ways to reform AHDB

AHDB HQ, Stoneleigh Park. Government wants to give farmers greater say in how their levy is spent
AHDB HQ, Stoneleigh Park. Government wants to give farmers greater say in how their levy is spent

A consultation has launched to reform the AHDB as part of a government move to deliver greater accountability and value for money for farmers.

The UK government and devolved administrations are seeking views on proposals for the levy organisation to be reformed.

It follows the results of recent ballots in the horticulture and potato sectors to end the statutory levy in these two sectors.

Farmers and growers in both sectors did not believe their levy was delivering tangible benefits or value.

The government says it is seeking to end both levies from April 2022, and explore the possibility of industry-led proposals for AHDB to deliver research and market development activities.

This could be through a range of other funding methods, it explains, such as voluntary levies, commercial agreements or new statutory levies where there is support for this.

The government is also proposing to allow levy payers in other sectors to have a greater say on how the levy is spent, through a vote on sector plans every five years.

The AHDB has committed to delivering the first vote on sector work programmes in the spring of 2022.

AHDB, established in 2008, seeks to help farmers improve their performance and drive growth through research, knowledge exchange and improving market access.

The consultation is aimed at farmers, growers, processors and others in the food supply chain across the UK who pay a statutory levy specifically to the AHDB.

In a joint statement, UK government and devolved administration ministers encouraged farmers, growers and stakeholders to submit their views to shape the AHDB.

“Our proposals for a reformed and more accountable AHDB respect the outcome the horticulture and potato ballots," they said.

"[The proposals] sit alongside improvements already underway to deliver a more efficient organisation, and better value for money for farmers and growers."

The consultation is aimed at farmers across the following sectors: Cereals and Oilseeds (across the UK), Beef, Sheep and Pigs (in England), and Dairy, Horticulture and Potatoes (Great Britain).

The consultation, which can be completed online, runs for 7 weeks from 17 November 2021 to midnight on the 10 January 2022.