Another week, another strategy document, this time in the form of the five-year AHDB ’change strategy’.
Like all documents of this kind it will do doubt split opinion, but it does nod towards many of the flash-points levy payers have raised as a concern for some time.
Chief among them is the need for AHDB to be more proactive when it comes to marketing the industry and its products; something which is addressed in the latest document and which marks a significant shift by the organisation.
Now under the guidance of chairman Richard Saphir, the five-year plan reveals a radical departure from the focus on knowledge exchange which was espoused by his predecessor, former NFU president Sir Peter Kendall. And, with chief executive Jane King having announced her departure from the levy board by later next year, there is no doubt AHDB is in the midst of significant upheaval.
However, whether the current change of tack will be enough to appease every critic is another thing, with the horticulture and potato sectors pushing for their own ballots on the relevance of the body.
Maybe that is why the latest document pledges to work sector by sector to ensure the different parts of the industry feel they are getting value for money, while assurances over regular reviews and levy payer votes are surely to head-off potential unrest.
Yet there is no doubt that on the subject of marketing, the whole of agriculture needs to be better at promoting its wares, especially the health and nutritional benefits of products such as dairy and meat protein; something this document thankfully points towards.
The insidious creep of anti-animal farming rhetoric is not only infecting the agendas of several major news and media outlets, but is also firmly embedded in many parts of academia and thought leadership, with the latest climate change committee report urging major reductions in meat and dairy consumption.
Farmers Guardian has always argued that none of the levy boards have the budget or scope to win this battle on their own, but this latest commitment from AHDB is certainly a welcome move in the ongoing PR challenge faced by the industry.