Ministers maintain levy board rates for third year

UK Ministers have maintained Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) levy rates for the third year running.

Ministers agreed the AHDB Corporate Plan yesterday. AHDB chairman Peter Kendall said: "AHDB’s role is to help build a confident, competitive industry which is constantly learning and adapting, acquiring new skills, innovating and adopting new technologies.

"We do a lot of good work but we can still work smarter and be more responsive and more effective for farmers and growers - through being more focused and more joined up.

"During this year we will be thoroughly reviewing our strategies and activity plans. We will be discussing our spend priorities with levy payers - where best to focus our limited levy resources to deliver greatest impact for the long-term success of the industry."

The Corporate Plan for the coming year aims to deliver against five strategic priorities:

1.    to help levy payers improve productivity and cost management (resource management, climate change, soils and water, managing market volatility)

2.    to help levy payers prevent and manage disease

3.    to help levy payers deliver market development (export development, promoting quality products to differentiate against imports, market information and analysis)

4.    to help levy payers understand and adapt to the regulatory and policy environment

5.    to help levy payers address labour market issues and skills development.

The work is funded by statutory levies paid by farmers and growers and others in the supply chain. These levy rates are approved annually by Ministers.

The forecast total net levy for 2015/16 amounts to around £57.3m and is supplemented with grants and commercial income forecast to be in the region of £8.3m. The funds raised from each commodity sector are ring-fenced to ensure they are used to the benefit of the sectors from which they were raised. The forecast net levy figure for horticulture in Great Britain is £7.726 million.

Following a six week industry consultation on the Corporate Plan and levy rates, the AHDB Board had recommended a small 1.96% (circa £120,000) increase to the AHDB potato levy.

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