Farming organisations have called for AHDB to deliver for levy payers in Defra’s consultation.
AHDB must deliver better value for money for UK levy payers, become more transparent and bridge the ‘disconnect’ with farmers.
Farming organisations have responded to Defra’s AHDB consultation supporting its continuation, but called for major changes in the organisation’s key focuses.
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said its members were not currently satisfied with AHDB activities and said it was ‘poor value for money’.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) said the governance of the boards and committees was not effectively representing the industry’s interests, and it was vital there were a number of places elected from levy payers, with organisations such as NSA having a ‘more formal role’.
Both the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and NSA wanted to see less focus on research and development and more on market opportunity.
The TFA said it believed AHDB’s principal role should be developing markets, both domestically and internationally.
TFA national chairman James Gray said securing routes to market was vital, particularly post-Brexit.
He also wanted increased scrutiny to ensure the levy was being spent well, pointing to a current lack of rigorous, independent evaluation of AHDB’s activities.
NFU’s response concentrated on two areas, a vision for business development functions and market development.
President Minette Batters said agriculture was a ‘complex industry with wide ranging needs; but there was a near-universal view among members ‘if AHDB ceased to exist today, there would be a strong desire to rebuild many, if not most, of its functions tomorrow’.
“The NFU believes the time is right to move to an AHDB model that is less bureaucratic and more dynamic, responsive and determined to work in partnership with its levy-payers to ensure that they are prepared for a post-Brexit world.
She added it must deliver far greater value for levy payers.
“We believe that approach is clear - an organisation that provides business development tools that are truly relevant for the industry, injecting vigour to farmers and growers position in the market, and the profitability and sustainability of their businesses.
“It is paramount that we use this huge opportunity for the Government and industry to get behind developing and marketing the distinctive identity, values and quality of British food and agriculture at home and abroad.
“Maintaining the industries position as the supplier of choice to all British citizens, whilst developing and expanding our food exports.”