AHDB agrees to review new calculation method for top fruit growers' levy

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has agreed to carry out an independent review of the new way in which top fruit growers' levy pay is calculated.

The review follows concerns expressed by apple and pear growers who are worried that their levy payments will increase as a result of the new calculation method.

The levy is now based on growers' turnover instead of the size of their orchard areas.

The NFU, along with English Apples & Pears (EAP), raised concerns with Defra last year about the then proposed changes to the basis of the levy collection.

An NFU representative said: "One of our major concerns was that the proposals were not based on up-to-date data, and so risked imposing dramatic changes to the amount of levy payable by apple and pear growers.

"However, Defra went ahead and made the changes - changes that are frustrating apple and pear growers and that are now embedded in legislation which growers are legally required to comply with."

The HDC told Grower that, after a meeting held earlier this month between AHDB, EAP and the HDC, it was confirmed that an independent review of the apple and pear levy would be undertaken this year.

The review will be based on up-to-date information - that is, the levy and information collected as part of the current HDC 2007-8 Horticultural Return.

Growers had to complete their return by the end of June, but some have purposely filled in the form incorrectly in protest to the changes (Grower, 26 June). An HDC representative said: "If they did not fill it in time (or correctly) they would have been sent a reminder giving them until end of July ... If they have still not responded then AHDB would estimate (their levy)."

He added that AHDB will employ an independent third party to conduct the review.

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