Three growers are urging their colleagues to complete a ballot to gauge views on the AHDB levy in order to paint a ‘truly representative picture’ for Defra.
Earlier this year, Defra published its analysis on the board following a call for views in 2018, with AHDB chief executive Jane King stating the results were a ‘general endorsement for the continuation of the levy’.
But three Lincolnshire producers, Simon Redden, Peter Thorold and John Bratley, said less than 0.5 per cent of levy-payers responded to the review.
They also highlighted the fact compulsory levy was based on business turnover, which had resulted in large growers facing payments of thousands of pounds and subject to legal action and potential criminal convictions for payment failure.
The ballot aims to canvas ‘accurate’ views on the continuation of ‘compulsory levy based on business turnover’.
Mr Bratley said: “We have been denied a ballot for the ten years that AHDB has been in existence, and following the Government call for views, it will be at least another five years before one is held.
“With no representation on the Council, this undemocratic quango continues to impose itself on us without representation regardless of our wishes and needs.”
The group was quick to express its ‘disappointment’ at AHDB’s failure to supply a complete list of 4,000 levy payers, which meant only 1,600 growers will automatically receive the ballot papers.
Peter Thorold added: “We believe that in the interests of democracy and openness AHDB should be releasing all levy-payer’s names directly to the company running the ballot in order for all voices to be heard through our ballot.
“Despite a Freedom of Information request, they have refused to do this.”
From the start of July, all known growers will receive a ballot paper, but all levy-paying growers are encouraged to request the form via email@example.com during the three-week canvassing period.