The National Sheep Association (NSA) has raised concerns about the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) new Inspiring Success strategy and whether it will deliver for its levy payers.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said the 2017-2020 document, aimed at boosting the industry’s productivity and competitiveness was rightly ’aspirational’, but there was a lot of work to do to ensure farmers on the ground saw tangible benefits.
One way in which the board could do this, he said, would be to ensure research being conducted on behalf of AHDB was shared with farmers in a way in which they could see it improving profitability.
"The strategy is all about inspiring farmers to do more for themselves, but we cannot forget that AHDB is a levy body and so it does have a responsibility to do some of this as well," added Mr Stocker.
"AHDB wants to spend levy payers’ money as wisely as possible and is looking for the big wins, but by doing this, there is a danger it may lose sight of non-mainstream aspects which would benefit from support, for example diverse sheep breeds.
"We do not want to charge down one homogenised route and forget the value of specialised markets."
Mr Stocker highlighted the value of upland production and how AHDB support could help other vulnerable but ’important’ areas, instead of switching to a ’mass marketing’ strategy.
The document, released earlier this month, is currently out for consultation.
However, some in the industry have questioned whether, considering Christmas, four weeks would be enough time for a meaningful consultation to take place.
The AHDB consultation closes on January 9.