Growers reject continuation of AHDB's horticulture levy

The voting process was a simple 'yes or no' vote on whether the levy payment should continue or not
The voting process was a simple 'yes or no' vote on whether the levy payment should continue or not

A majority of growers have voted against the continuation of AHDB's statutory horticulture levy, casting further doubt on its future.

The ballot looked at the future existence of AHDB Horticulture and the work it sets out to deliver on behalf of UK growers.

It asked levy payers: 'Do you agree that the statutory horticulture levy should continue?', offering a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer.

The overall voter turnout was 69 percent. By individual votes cast, the No vote was 61% versus the Yes vote of 39%.

Meanwhile, voting analysis by independent company UK Engage, showed 57% Yes versus No 43% on value of levy paid.

The outturn has been passed to government ministers for a decision on what happens next.

The call for a ballot came late last year and a yes/no vote started last month on the basis of one levy payer, one vote.

AHDB Chair Nicholas Saphir said the voting information showed different sentiment across different crop sectors and size of business.

"It is really a very complex picture. It is now down to ministers to weigh up all the various factors about GB horticulture and make a decision on the future role of a horticulture levy,” he said.

The outturn of the ballot will now be passed on to Defra Ministers and the devolved governments, who will then make a decision on the future. They are not bound by the ballot.

Defra Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said: “We will now take these results and scrutinise them closely before making a decision on the future of the Horticulture levy in due course.”

In September 2020, AHDB confirmed it had received requests for a ballot from more than 5% of horticulture levy payers.

The growers behind the request for a ballot, flower grower Simon Redden and veg producers Peter Thorold and John Bratley, criticised the AHDB for being 'outdated' and 'unaccountable'.