Farming News - Major change on the cards for AHDB

Major change on the cards for AHDB

AHDB Homepage

Major change is on the cards for AHDB as it proposes a new five year strategy for 2021 -2026. 

Change will focus on significantly improving levy payers’ engagement and say on AHDB priorities for their sector and crop, including how much levy is collected and where it is spent. Delivering value for money and designing a modern levy system is at the heart of the future, starting with horticulture and potatoes.

Also included is a commitment to a ballot every five years on the future of the levy, ensuring levy payers have a greater say in designing AHDB work programmes and priorities.

AHDB Chair Nicholas Saphir said the strategy and change programme demonstrated AHDB was listening and looking to build on the ‘Five Commitments’ it made in the wake of the Government’s Request for Views published earlier this year.

The new plans in the strategy are designed to proactively work with levy payers responding to the future.  With new farm support policies, changing consumer behaviours and new trading arrangements on departing the EU, AHDB is committed to be well placed to deliver effectively for levy payers.  AHDB’s future direction also bolsters its focus on shaping environmental solutions on farm and across the supply chain, to meet the challenges of sustainability and climate change. 

Nicholas Saphir said: “We have listened very carefully to levy payers’ concerns about delivering value for money in such challenging times, and ensuring our work programmes are fit for purpose.  We fully recognise there are genuine differences between challenges facing sectors, crops and species and that one size of offering does not fit all.  Levies in the future must be set to reflect the value provided and work priorities clearly agreed with levy payers.

“In addition, AHDB will review the current tools, services and products across all its sectors to see how they are being used by farmers and growers. We will keep listening to levy payers with open Board meetings, new levy payer user groups and developing interaction both in person and online.”

AHDB’s five year strategy focuses work in three areas – Evidence and Data, Farm Performance and Marketing and Exports.

Utilising evidence, ensuring facts, insight and data underpin all AHDB’s work will be key in the new strategy - from “what works” on farm to where opportunities exist for British product at home and overseas - identified with world class consumer insight.

Improving and measuring the way best practice is shared across the industry will be the focus of a new AHDB Evidence For Farming initiative to support agricultural innovation, with a specific focus on the impact on business profitability of applying environmental measures.

AHDB’s future marketing work will continue to champion the reputation of British food and farming. There will be marketing campaigns focusing on health, nutrition and the environment to ensure consumers continue to purchase and enjoy meat, dairy and potatoes, as part of a balanced diet. The first key campaign in this area launches from January 4 2021.

In exports, AHDB will boost its activity opening up new export markets for British produce in countries such as Japan, China, the US and the Middle East. Work will also continue in building opportunities in existing markets in the wake of exiting the EU and new international trade deals.

Nicholas Saphir added: “I see the future as a period of real opportunity for British farming and growing.  Our change programme and new strategic focus will provide the basis for AHDB to work together with levy payers in shaping our collective future and making the most of what lies ahead.”

The full AHDB strategy and proposed sector plans are published for consultation and can be found online at ahdb.org.uk/strategy. The closing date for feedback is 31 January 2021.

Horticulture and potato levy payers can also find out more about the proposed changes to their levy system at ahdb.org.uk/strategy. The consultation closing date for this is 31 January 2021

Responding to AHDB’s new five year strategy, NFU President Minette Batters said: “It’s great to see such a strong focus on food advocacy, farm business performance and technical advice within the new strategy – some of the main things we highlighted in our case for AHDB review.

“AHDB has clearly listened to the industry and its proposals to improve transparency and governance will be welcome news for many farmers and growers.

“This consultation comes at a challenging time as our sector faces significant uncertainty in the coming weeks and years. Nevertheless, it is crucial that any multi-annual strategy results in an organisation that offers fantastic value for levy investment, alongside greater agility and accountability as farmers and growers meet the challenge of sustainable production this coming decade.

“We will be examining the strategy in greater detail as there are still areas that are not altogether clear, such as how outcomes of levy investment will be measured. We will continue to work with our members to put forward their views during the consultation period.”