Farmers and growers must receive better value for money from the statutory levy body set up to promote development in agriculture and horticulture.
That is the message from the CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses in its response to Defra’s review on what the future role and activities of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) should be.
The CLA said its members would continue to support the existence of the board but changes are needed to its governance and structure so that an improved level of delivery to those who pay the levy can be achieved.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Farmers and growers already face significant uncertainty as we navigate Brexit and beyond. It is vital for the AHDB to meet the challenge of supporting these industries through this upheaval, especially in preparing for Brexit – deal or no deal.
“Our continued support for the board is dependent on fundamental changes in governance, to ensure transparent decision-making and a focus on delivering for those who pay the levy rather than government objectives.
“CLA members are not satisfied with current AHDB activities and say it is poor value for money. If the board were to focus on doing less but doing it well, that would achieve most impact and allay the concerns of the levy payers.”
The CLA’s response also highlighted the need for board membership to include a range of skills and expertise and called for improved multi-channel communications to better promote the services on offer.
Mr Breitmeyer added: “Too many farmers and growers are unaware of the work the AHDB does and how it can improve their business, so external communication needs drastically addressing. Alongside this, it is crucial for the board to have the expertise required to run this multi-million-pound organisation focused on delivering outcomes for levy payers and ensuring their buy-in for the knowledge and advice available.”