NFU welcomes proposals for potato levy funds


AHDB has asked government ministers to consider using residual potato levy funds to support seven industry projects through a grant to GB Potatoes.

The NFU was one of several organisations to send a letter of support for the proposal, in addition to NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, the British Potato Trade Association, the Fresh Potato Supplier Association and the Potato Processor’s Association.

AHDB holds around £1.8m of potato reserves, following the sale of its Sutton Bridge Experimental Unit, £400k of which it has said needs to be set aside to cover any potential residual liabilities.

Subject to approval by ministers, the grant will comprise £1.372m over the first three years, with a further £426,200 for years four and five, dependant on a successful review and the availability of sufficient potato funds from the residual liabilities set aside.

Projects to benefit whole sector

The seven proposed projects AHDB has proposed for funding are:

  1. Potato Blight Project – addressing the significant threat of potato blight, by monitoring genetic changes and fungicide sensitivity.
  2. Aphid Monitoring Project – supports national aphid monitoring, providing industry-wide data for decision-making.
  3. Management Tools to tackle Viruses Project – this project proposes joining HCP (Horticulture Crop Protection) on behalf of the seed sector in order to access essential functions for sustaining high-grade seed production.
  4. Reputational Management Project – safeguarding the industry's reputation through strategic monitoring, proactive crisis management, centralised coordination, influencer engagement, and media outreach.
  5. Bridging Information Gap Project – provision of transparent and reliable data on potato cultivation, varieties, and national yield.
  6. CIPC Residue Monitoring Project – to support the industry providing data to the Chemical Regulation Division to assess chlorpropham residues in stores. Failure to submit data risks rendering stores with a CIPC history unusable.
  7. Updating Nutrient Management (RB209) Project – with the industry always looking to move forward and adopt new practices there is a need to ensure revision of fertiliser recommendations reflect current technologies.

The projects will support research and development into things such as threats of disease and safeguarding the industry’s reputation.”

NFU Potato Policy Group chair Tim Rooke

Chair of the NFU Potato Policy Group Tim Rooke welcomed the proposals adding that this was “something the NFU potato policy group has been calling for”.

"Funds won’t be used for the day-to-day running of GB Potatoes, instead they will be used on projects than will benefit the whole of the potato sector, not just members of the body. The projects will support research and development into things such as threats of disease and safeguarding the industry’s reputation,” he added.

AHDB Chief Executive Graham Wilkinson said “grant funding would guarantee support in key areas of industry need over the next few years and give the industry the best chance to develop a self-sustaining voluntary funding model into the future”.

GB Potatoes Chief Executive Scott Walker said the proposed initiatives are “designed to confront industry obstacles, nurturing resilience and are for the benefit of the entire supply chain”.

“To provide oversight, on project implementation, monitoring, and evaluation, we will establish an industry advisory committee comprising industry stakeholders to work with GB Potatoes to ensure that all growers benefit from the residual levy funds,” he added.

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