King, Jane L

Jane King is stepping down as chief executive of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) after almost six years in the role, the levy body has announced.

King has decided that the next 12 months will be her last in the role, and will be leaving no later than the end of September 2021, or earlier depending on the timing of the appointment of her successor.

In the meantime, she will work closely with recently appointed chair Nicholas Saphir, the board and the leadership team to continue to reform AHDB in line with new commitments to improve levy-payer engagement and value for money, AHDB said.

King said she felt the time was right to hand over the baton now that the new five-year strategy and business plans are nearly complete and will be shortly out for consultation, and the change programme underway.

Her focus will continue to be on leading the strategic change programme, she stressed. This includes consulting with industry on the new strategy, developing the business plans and new programmes, progressing action on AHDB's response to Defra's request for views and continuing to deliver positive impact for industry.

Recruitment of a new chief executive will begin immediately and there will be a handover period before King leaves. The former Farmers Weekly editor said she is keen to have a break with her family next year before continuing to support the industry in other ways in the future.

King said: “It has been a great privilege to lead an incredible team at AHDB and to work with inspirational farmers, growers and partners to deliver our programmes and services. The commitment and dedication of AHDB colleagues has been amazing.

“It’s always difficult to craft a farewell message, but I have the comfort of knowing that together we have achieved a good deal and AHDB will go from strength to strength under fresh leadership.

“The new five-year strategy will see AHDB playing a crucial role in helping to grow British agriculture and horticulture at a time of great change and opportunity. I would like to thank all those colleagues, stakeholders, partners, board members and levy-payers who have shown me so much support and encouragement over the last five and a half years. You’ve been awesome!”

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