The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has announced details of a series of meetings to discuss with levy what its future spending priorities should be.
The levy body has come in for some heavy criticism in recent months, from red meat and dairy levy payers in particular.
The biggest source of frustration has been a perceived reluctance by AHDB to allocate levy money to promotion, reinforced by the delay in getting the current red meat campaign signed off.
Levy payers will have a chance to get their voice heard when AHDB stages a series of open meetings across England and Wales to discuss ’which levy-funded activities can help levy payers build better businesses’.
The dates of the sessions are:
Full details of all the meetings, including times, venues and how to register to attend, and a levy payer questionnaire are available on the AHDB website.
Feedback will be collated and shared with AHDB’s sector boards inform their discussions on where resource should be focused and what will deliver most impact for levy payers.
The meetings complement a series of similar sessions in Scotland for the four AHDB sectors that also collect levy and operate in Scotland.
The levy body said its staff were also ’out and about’ over the next few weeks meeting supply chain levy payers and their trade associations as part of the wider review of its activities.
AHDB chief executive Jane King said: “Our aim is to provide levy payers with the tools and information to build businesses which are competitive and sustainable.
“We want to listen to what farmers, growers and our supply chain believe will help their businesses to make the most of future opportunities and meet the longer term challenges.
“Whether this is extending our monitor farm work, funding applied research, looking at increased market development, or pooling resources to attract additional funding from external sources, we need the input from our levy payers to support our sector boards in their strategy decisions.
“We want to listen to views on what AHDB should be doing to help levy payers build a better business.”
AHDB’s spending priorities have been a hot topic ever since the resignation of Stuart Roberts as AHDB Beef and Lamb chairman in August, following what he claimed was Government interference with levy spending.
His actions lifted the lid on simmering frustration within the red meat industry over the long delay in getting sign off for AHDB’s proposed £1.6m beef and lamb marketing campaign, which is now underway.
An FG Insight survey of levy payers from across the sectors highlighted some of the key areas of concern over AHDD. Findings included:
AHDB chairman Peter Kendall insisted he remained ’fully supportive’ of using levy money for promotion but insisted it should not be seen as the answer to the industry’s problems.