AHDB unveils 'yes or no' vote on horticulture levy

AHDB has formally announced there will be a ballot in January on the continuation of a statutory levy in horticulture - a simple 'yes or no' vote.

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

The announcement follows confirmation that AHDB had received requests for a ballot from more than 5 percent of horticulture levy payers.

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for a ballot, flower grower Simon Redden and veg producers Peter Thorold and John Bratley, criticise the AHDB as being 'outdated' and 'unaccountable'.

AHDB said it would now procure the service of an independent company to administer the vote process.

It added this would take a number of weeks, and that voting process would commence in January.

Every levy payer will be invited and encouraged to vote in the ballot.

Nicholas Saphir, AHDB Chair said. “We welcome the opportunity for an open debate on the important role of AHDB and how it is the funding backbone of horticultural applied research and development to address crop protection, labour, resource use, and technical innovation.”

Once the ballot has concluded, AHDB said it would publish the results on its website and inform ministers, who would then make a decision on the future of the levy.

Ministers are not bound by the result of the ballot.

Vegetable grower and ballot co-organiser Peter Thorold delivered the requests for a ballot to Ruth Ashfield, Strategy Director of AHDB Horticulture, on 28 September.

He said: “Over the last six months AHDB have repeatedly said that if growers feel strongly enough about the levy, they should use the existing legal procedures to trigger a formal ballot on the continuation of a compulsory levy, so with the mandate that we received from our survey, that is what we have now done.

"We fully expect a fairly conducted AHDB ballot to endorse our findings.”

Source: Farming UK