NFU writes to Farmers Weekly in response to article on AHDB ballot

NFU President Minette Batters has written a letter to Farmers Weekly in response to an opinion piece that criticised the NFU for its ‘lack of support for a vote’ on the future of AHDB.

With the announcement of the Agricultural Transition Plan and farming facing greater pressures than ever before, it is right that the future direction of AHDB is being debated to ensure it delivers value for levy payers.

The NFU has represented members’ views throughout this period of review. In 2018 we regularly reported on Defra’s Review of AHDB and encouraged members to respond both directly and through our own comprehensive response. We made it clear that reform was needed to support farmers and growers through market development and business resilience. AHDB’s new five-year strategy reflects the need to evolve (including the overhaul of the horticultural levy) and its proposals to improve transparency and governance will be welcome news for many. It’s also crucial that any multi-annual strategy offers fantastic value for levy investment, alongside greater agility and accountability.

AHDB performs a wide range of services, so different perceptions of value between businesses and sectors is to be expected. With opinions strongly divided amongst some levy payers, the forthcoming horticulture ballot is a pivotal moment in AHDB’s future. While the vote is not binding on ministers, the results will provide a clear indication of how levy payers feel. The NFU has reflected these varying views in our discussions with Defra, from those who wish to see its abolition to those who want to see its services develop and even expand for the good of the sector.

The NFU is providing members with information to understand the ballot process and its implications. The publication of AHDB’s five-year strategy is timely and it’s important that farmers and growers understand their plans for the future so they can make an informed decision on how to cast their vote. We’ll be helping members engage with the consultation directly and through our national response and we’d encourage all levy payers to participate.

Minette Batters

NFU President

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