Following the government consultation at the end of 2021 on proposals to reform the AHBD, levy payers in the beef and lamb, cereals and oilseed, dairy, and pork sectors are now being given more say on how their levy is spent, through a vote every five years.
The first of these votes took place via an online survey, which ran throughout April and May.
AHDB says it has received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback as it shared the results of the first survey.
42% of registered levy payers had their say on the priorities for each sector.
The highest ranked priorities included protecting the reputation of the beef, lamb, dairy and pork sectors and supporting farmers through changes to farm support.
You can read the full results of the survey and learn about the next steps on the AHDB’s Shape the future web page.
Aiding farmers to navigate the future landscape
NFU President Minette Batters said: “It is a critical time for UK food and farming. Giving levy payers the opportunity to help shape the future of AHDB and to establish its priorities for the coming months and years ahead has been an important step in ensuring AHDB delivers the insight and strategic advice needed to help farmers navigate future challenges and maximise opportunities.
“It remains hugely important for the work of AHDB to have real world, positive impact for farming businesses. The NFU and its commodity boards look forward to working with AHDB as it shapes its sector strategies and for those strategies to be crystal clear for all levy paying businesses.”
About the votes
The ‘Shape the future’ votes are not ballots on continuing levies, although AHDB chief executive Tim Rycroft acknowledged that the decision of the horticulture and potatoes sector to end the levy sent an important message and is one of the drivers of change.
“We are clear that the future of AHDB levies is a decision for the industry and Defra and the mechanism remains exactly the same,” he said.
Instead, farmers and growers will be asked to vote on a list of priorities in each sector and will be given the opportunity to add others of their own.
Voting will be on the basis of ‘one levy payer, one vote’, though the sector councils will also be given information on how votes are cast according to scale, along with qualitative feedback from events, focus groups and stakeholder engagement.
Mr Rycroft said farmers’ priorities for levy spend would address ‘myriad challenges’, from changes to farm support, climate and weather events and input inflation to labour accessibility and the impacts of trade deals.