Farming levy board pledges reforms after government review

Nicholas Saphir, chairman of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), says the org

Nicholas Saphir, chairman of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), says the organisation is making reforms to make it 'fit for purpose' in changing times. Picture: AHDB - Credit: AHDB

The farmer-funded statutory levy board has pledged to develop a new strategy and improve communication with levy payers on how their money is spent after a government review.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has announced it will make a series of changes following the government’s response to its “Request for Views”, published earlier this year.

Also included are a commitment to a regular ballot on the AHDB levy and how it is spent, a review of the levy calculations for potatoes and horticulture, and a review of AHDB’s board and committee structure.

AHDB chairman Nicholas Saphir, who was appointed in April 2020, said: “We have listened carefully to the views expressed by levy payers in response to the government-led Request for Views, and we are now committed to some key reforms to ensure we are fit for purpose in the changing times British agriculture is facing.”

Mr Saphir underlined the importance of AHDB’s new five-year strategy, which is being published for feedback this autumn, focusing on the key areas of market development and farm performance.

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“Our fantastic work during Covid 19 showed AHDB is at its very best in responding quickly to the needs of farmers, growers and the supply chain at a time of crisis, and we were able to clearly demonstrate the value we add for our levy payers,” he said.

“Our industry is about to undergo significant change driven by a new direction in trade and agriculture policies, as well as shifting consumer demands. Farming and supply chain businesses will need to compete with the best in the world, drawing on the latest insight to improve farm performance, grow market opportunities and meet environmental goals.

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“That is what we will provide in our new strategy – and we will commit to telling our levy payers on a regular basis how we are spending their money and the benefits it brings.”

National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters said: “It’s really encouraging that AHDB has listened to the call for reform and is seizing the moment to plan for change.

“In our response to Defra’s request for views, we made the case for an agile levy body with clear focus on business and market development to help us meet challenges and ensure British farming can maximise future opportunities. We look forward to seeing more detail on the new strategy in the coming months.”

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