DEFRA reply to levy board consultation finds approval

DEFRA has issued a summary of responses to a consultation on the Levy Board UK Order 2007, which has been welcomed by the HTA and HDC.

HDC chief executive Martin Beckenham said: “This effectively sets out the framework by which the new body will work. They have taken on board the points we’ve made: they have ring-fenced the levy so that it can only be used for the purpose it was collected for. It safeguards horticulture money from being used elsewhere.” The summary of 18 horticulturists’ responses — from a total of 48 — found that they were “adamant that the HDC should not be included in the reform process”. They wanted horticulture levy money to go only for horticulture R&D and not promotion and they were against higher levies — a figure of 0.6 per cent is mentioned in the document. HTA director general David Gwyther said: “We particularly welcome the commitment to redraft the Statutory Instrument (SI) so that levies raised must be ring-fenced for the purposes of the sector from which the levy is raised. “We also welcome the commitment to redraft that part dealing with transfer of assets from the old HDC to the new Horticulture Sector Company. DEFRA has also listened to HTA views on the moratorium before levy payers can call for a ballot on the future of the board and will be reducing the period from five years to three years as we suggested. Removing the anomaly whereby retail nurseries were paying a much higher rate than equivalent wholesale nurseries is a further area where DEFRA has listened to HTA concerns and taken action.” The HDC said the biggest change in the document is that apple levies should be calculated by turnover rather than area as at present.

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