Nicholas Saphir

AHDB chairman Nicholas Saphir

Defra is seeking views on proposals for a reformed Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), to deliver greater accountability and value for money for farmers across the UK.

The UK government, in agreement with the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, said the consultation follows a Request for Views on the future of the AHDB in 2018 and the results of recent ballots in horticulture and potatoes to end the statutory levy in those two sectors.

It 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.

The consultation proposes:

- to end the statutory levy in the horticulture and potato sectors from April 2022. The government and the devolved administrations said they remain open to exploring industry-led proposals for AHDB to deliver research and market development activities through a range of other funding methods, such as voluntary levies, commercial agreements or new statutory levies where there is widespread support for this;

- to allow levy payers in other sectors 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.

The consultation runs for seven weeks from 17 November 2021 to midnight on 10 January 2022.

In a joint statement, UK government and devolved administration ministers said: 'Our proposals for a reformed and more accountable AHDB respect the outcome of the horticulture and potato ballots and sit alongside improvements already underway to deliver a more efficient organisation, and better value for money for farmers and growers.

'We encourage farmers, growers and all relevant stakeholders across the UK to submit their views and help us shape the AHDB of the future.'

The government pointed out that further improvements to the governance and structure of the AHDB are already underway. 'A reformed AHDB will support the delivery of our ambitions for a sustainable and competitive agriculture sector, and will help farmers identify innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions, improve competitiveness and productivity, and access new markets,' it said.

Interested parties can access the consultation here.