New R&D environment welcomed

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Petitioners who called for levy lifting say industry is 'taking ownership'.

THE 'AHDB Petitioners' in the UK have welcomed the emergence of a new self-regulating R&D environment following the formal lifting of compulsory levies on the potato and horticulture sectors.

Lincolnshire vegetable grower Peter Thorold said: “Over the last six months, since Defra confirmed the scrapping of the horticulture and potato levies and a zero-rated levy for 2022, as predicted we have seen the industry begin to take ownership for its own research and development activity, setting its own priorities and ensuring that those who want the research are able to benefit from it.”

In the potato sector, growers have come together to create new grower-led organisations for the ware and seed sectors, and these initiatives are eligible for tax relief where appropriate.

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The industry has also continued to be eligible for targeted R&D funding, such as Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, which has provided funding for projects in fruit production and vegetable harvesting, among others. In the private sector, organisations including Fera Science and NIAB have also begun to manage collaborative projects on key issues, bringing together stakeholders from numerous backgrounds to work on a common goal.

Lincolnshire potato and vegetable grower John Bratley added: “We are pleased to see the crop associations taking the initiative with their members to get targeted R&D done without the monolithic approach that was the AHDB. Now, with the extra pressure from increasing input costs that growers face, it is more important than ever that the statutory levies have been removed and growers can now decide what areas of focus are best for their businesses.”

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