Growers’ Better Levy Group outlines its vision

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28 July 2021
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Growers’ Better Levy Group outlines its vision

THE Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG) is calling for Defra to support a grower-managed research agency run by growers following the ballot on the AHDB statutory levy for horticulture and potato growers.

Made up of a voluntary group of 36 independent growers/operators in the potato and horticulture sectors, the group advocates a collaborative approach to innovation, research and development, as well as knowledge exchange and connecting researchers to growers.

The group has outlined all the priority areas for innovation, research and development required by the UK’s potato and horticulture sectors and defined how a grower-run R&D investment board might operate.

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Group chairman Phil Pearson (pictured), Group Development Director at APS Group, said the group recently met Victoria Prentis from Defra and explained that it required Defra’s support foran independent, grower-managed, research agency funded by an investment levy.

“The agency would emulate models that already exist in both New Zealand and Australia," he said. The R&D would be directed by an elected, independent board of representative growers who would decide on research priorities and projects, in consultation with the wider industry, including businesses and grower associations.”

The group has also shared the following asks with Minister Prentis:
1.    R&D provision will be competitively tendered for.
2.    Key AHDB staff must not be lost from the industry and halted projects deemed vital by the sectors must be completed.
3.    The continuation of a small Statutory Levy is necessary to fund critical work.
4.    A larger voluntary investment levy will be necessary for agreed programmes of work and growers should have the ability to vote for this by sector on a regular basis. 
5.    Within crop sectors, voluntary funds will be raised for the whole sector to fund projects that benefit all, or they will be raised on an individual crop basis for crop specific projects. The option will be there to fund longer term projects.
6.    To fund programmes of work, crop specific investment funds will be created, accessing investment funds. Tax relief and match funding by Defra should be made available.
7.    The overhead costs should not exceed 15% of levies paid.

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