Levy payers to lead on future direction of AHDB

Levy payers are to have a greater say in the future direction and priorities of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

Recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't account for the challenges facing different sectors, crops and species, AHDB has proposed a new five year strategy for 2021-2026, promising to improve its levy payers’ involvement in how it responds to the future – including how much levy is collected and where it is spent.

"We fully recognise that one size of offering does not fit all."

The new strategy will begin with horticulture and potatoes, with the aim of delivering value for money and designing a modern levy system which will be revisited every five years to ensure it aligns with its levy payers.

AHDB’s future direction will also focus on shaping environmental solutions on farm and across the supply chain, to meet the challenges of sustainability and climate change.

Recently appointed AHDB chair, Nicholas Saphir, said: “We have listened very carefully to levy payers’ concerns about delivering value for money in such challenging times, and ensuring our work programmes are fit for purpose. We fully recognise there are genuine differences between challenges facing sectors, crops and species and that one size of offering does not fit all. Levies in the future must be set to reflect the value provided and work priorities clearly agreed with levy payers.

“In addition, AHDB will review the current tools, services and products across all its sectors to see how they are being used by farmers and growers. We will keep listening to levy payers with open Board meetings, new levy payer user groups and developing interaction both in person and online.”

AHDB’s five year strategy will focus work in three areas – 'Evidence and Data', 'Farm Performance' and 'Marketing and Exports'.

Utilising evidence, ensuring facts, insight and data underpin all AHDB’s work will be key in the new strategy – from what works on farm to where opportunities exist for British produce at home and overseas, identified via consumer insight.

Improving and measuring the way best practice is shared across the industry will be the focus of a new AHDB 'Evidence For Farming' initiative to support agricultural innovation, with a specific focus on the impact on business profitability of applying environmental measures.

AHDB’s future marketing work will continue to champion the reputation of British food and farming. There will be marketing campaigns focusing on health, nutrition and the environment to ensure consumers continue to purchase and enjoy meat, dairy and potatoes, as part of a balanced diet – and the first campaign in this area launches from January 4, 2021.

In exports, AHDB will boost its efforts to open up new export markets for British produce in countries such as Japan, China, the US and the Middle East. Work will also continue in building opportunities in existing markets in the wake of Brexit and new international trade deals.

Mr Saphir added: “I see the future as a period of real opportunity for British farming and growing. Our change programme and new strategic focus will provide the basis for AHDB to work together with levy payers in shaping our collective future and making the most of what lies ahead.”

The full AHDB strategy and proposed sector plans are published for consultation and can be found online at ahdb.org.uk/strategy. The closing date for feedback is January 31, 2021.

Source: The Scottish Farmer