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Horticulture levy could continue another year

Growers voted against the continuation of the levy for AHDB last month

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Horticulture levy could continue another year

Growers have reacted angrily to speculation AHDB Horticulture could continue for another year despite a vote to end the levy.

 

The AHDB petitioners who brought the ballot, said it would be unacceptable to pay for another year, adding it was ’an affront to the democratic principle’.

 

While neither Defra or AHDB would comment, it was suggested there were proposals to continue for another year due to the short time until the end of this financial year (March 31).

 

Outcome

 

Defra said it would not be making any comment until the outcome of the potato ballot - currently in progress - was known.

 

Lincolnshire grower John Bratley said it was a ’lame excuse’ and AHDB was in denial of the will of levy payers.

 

He said there was enough time for AHDB to prepare for the outcome and there should be reserves of levy to cover any eventualities.

 

The growers also highlighted 138 votes were classed as ineligible in the ballot, due to some dropping below the minimum level of trade or not having paid the levy due.

 

Mr Bratley said: “This number logically would be a no vote - turkeys do not vote for Christmas.”


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He added this would also change the argument the vote was a ’yes’ when weighted in favour of the value of levy paid, which seemed to be suggested by AHDB chair Nicholas Saphir when the result was announced.

 

The growers behind the ballot also asked what message this would send to other sectors seeking similar ballots.

 

Perthshire seed grower Robert Doig said he was unsure how the vote would go but if it was a no he would not be ’jumping up and down’ if the levy had to continue for a year or two, perhaps on a reducing basis.

 

Obligations

 

“This would allow AHDB Potatoes to fulfil its contractual obligations especially on existing research projects.

“Remember many of these projects are undertaken by grower-funded bodies which could be badly affected if the AHDB element stopped abruptly.”

 

Speaking at the NFU Conference last month, Defra Secretary George Eustice promised to uphold the horticulture vote.

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