BRITISH growers opposed to the continuation of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the horticultural sector have urged others to make their voices heard, adding that proposed reforms to the levy body do not go far enough and are “too little, too late.”
Ballot papers were sent by AHDB to levy payers last week, and those growers who have paid their current levy (or have a deferral agreement) now have until February 10 th to vote on whether the levy board continues for horticulture. Growers opposed to the current system argue that only a decisive vote can deliver the R&D approach that the horticultural industry needs, citing the model adopted in The Netherlands since it abolished its horticultural levy organisation in 2015.
Potato and vegetable grower John Bratley said it is vital that all growers vote in the ballot, whether for or against the continuation of AHDB. He said: “Whatever the outcome, for this vote to have real legitimacy, there needs to be a significant turnout and we urge every eligible grower in the UK to vote. Even those supporting the continuation of the levy have said that plans for reform, such as they are, would need to be put to a future vote. We believe growers should make the most of this opportunity and vote to abolish an organisation which is out of date, out of touch, and struggling to come up with a meaningful agenda for reform.”
Fellow grower Peter Thorold believes some of the recent actions by the AHDB have been a waste of money and claimed its recently-held Town Hall Meetings had only been attended by a small amount of levy payers.
He said: “AHDB has cynically spent our levy, which should have been put towards funding R&D, on a campaign seeking to justify its continued existence. Substantial sums of our money have been used to create glossy brochures, webinars and online videos for self-promotion. If the AHDB is not prepared to be judged on its past performance, why should we trust it to be effective in the future?”
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