AHDB report trumpets back office savings

The latest Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Annual Report and Accounts (2012/13), recently laid before UK Parliaments and Assemblies, shows that in the year up to March 2013, AHDB spent nearly £2.9 million more on direct levy payer activities than it spent the previous year, with 87.5p in every pound of its £64.5 million total income invested in front-line levy payer support.

AHDB consists of six sector-focused operating divisions covering beef & lamb, cereals & oilseeds, dairy, horticulture, pigs and potatoes.

AHDB says it has generated annual savings of around £3.8 million on operational support costs (IT, finance, office costs, human resources, etc) compared to the costs of running the former levy bodies.

AHDB chief executive Tom Taylor said: "Our cross-sector commitment to industry innovation was firmly demonstrated by the fact £22.1 million, more than one third of AHDB’s income, was invested in research and putting associated on-farm science into practice, in 2012/13.

"This included 39 joint-sector-funded R&D projects, valued at £15 million, which brought shared sector benefits at reduced cost. Many of these projects are featured in the report but one example is that of our three crop divisions sharing the cost of a project on insecticide resistance management in the peach-potato aphid – each sector will benefit from the work but for a third of the cost to each levy of doing it alone."
He added: "Through our £4.4 million programme of targeted export development work, AHDB played a key role in helping UK agri-businesses secure greater rewards overseas – international trade was valued at more than £5.5 billion in 2012 for beef, lamb, pigmeat, potatoes and cereals; this represents around 46 per cent of total UK food and drink exports."

AHDB recently formed part of the Feeding the Future report that set out the industry’s research priorities for the next 20 years. AHDB was part of the Joint Commissioning Group, along with the National Farmers Union (NFU), NFU Scotland, the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) and the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), supported by the Technology Strategy Board. These research priorities were a key influence in the preparation of the Government’s Agri-tech strategy, due to be launched on 22 July.

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