AHDB Stoneleigh

AHDB headquarters in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire

The UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has a vital role to play in the future of UK agriculture but must demonstrate its value to farmers, according to the NFU.

In its response to AHDB’s five-year strategy consultation issued today (2 February), the NFU emphasised the important role that the levy board - which represents farmers, growers and others in the supply chain - has to play in the future of British farming, but advised that, above all, it must deliver and demonstrate value for levy investment.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “AHDB has a vital role to play in the future of UK agriculture. The next few years will be more challenging than ever, and we will need all hands-on-deck to promote our products, seek new markets and support our farmers through any changes coming down the tracks.”

As with any business or organisation, though, AHDB needs to be able to adapt and respond to whatever challenges come its way, she added.

“We are navigating through completely uncharted waters, not only due to Brexit but also a global pandemic and climate crisis, and agility is going to be vital in such a fast-changing environment. Crucially, evidence and data must drive its work and value for money must shine through in everything it does – this value must then be demonstrated to levy payers,” Batters continued.

“As part of the five-year strategy, the planned two-pronged approach to drive both farm performance and industry and product advocacy looks like a positive way forward.”

The NFU highlighted the following ways in which AHDB could demonstrate and deliver value for levy investment:

• Building world-class governance throughout the organisation to provide greater transparency and give levy payer confidence in how their money is being spent.
• Enabling greater agility and flexibility when it comes to responding to issues of the moment.
• Focusing on each sector’s individual needs and continuing to ensure that all sector representatives are transparent and credible within the industry.
• Putting evidence and data at the heart of the five year strategy.
• Creating a stronger connection between the industry and applied research through the Evidence for Farming Initiative and making sure it is compatible with the Agricultural Transition Period to prepare the industry for reducing direct payments.
• Ensuring that the routine five-year ballots are fair for all levy payers, including those that pay indirectly.