This week from the editor, Ben Briggs.
A REGULAR caller and avid letter writer to Farmers Guardian asked this week whether the Government’s decision to bring about a review of AHDB was down to him. That might be a step too far, I said, but it certainly gives farmers a chance to air their views about the often divisive levy board.
AHDB is an organisation that some farmers love, while for others it is an institution they love to hate. While it produces in-depth reports and research for the industry to utilise, its work sometimes fails to reach the right audience or find its way out of a vast institution.
Under the leadership of chief executive Jane King and chairman Peter Kendall it has gone through a significant internal restructure which they hope will leave it better placed to deliver for a sector facing increasing challenges brought about by Brexit and other factors.
The focus of much of its work is on knowledge transfer and helping farmers make the most of the tools AHDB delivers. For some producers though, unless AHDB was spending all of its money on marketing and promotion then there would be no chance of their criticism being silenced.
The review also offers the chance for thorny issues such as red meat levy repatriation to be explored in more detail. Every Royal Highland and Royal Welsh show for the past few years has seen the Scottish and Welsh Farming Ministers make political capital out of this issue, and maybe now is the time for proper answers.
Most of all, however, the review gives the chance for farmers to make their voices heard on what they want from their levies. If AHDB has sometimes appeared aloof or detached from the concerns of the grassroots producer, this is the perfect opportunity to make your voices heard.
As an industry, agriculture is inundated with surveys and consultations, but this is one which should prompt scores of farmers to get their views across. And when and if they do, it is crucial that Government and AHDB bosses act upon what they say.