TFA welcomes AHDB listening mode but it’s now time for action

The Tenant Farmers Association has said that the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) must show it is delivering real value to levy payers.

Over past months the TFA has been involved in one to one discussions with AHDB and contributed both to its Activity Review and the recent consultation on its draft strategy.

TFA National Chairman Stephen Wyrill said “AHDB has come in for considerable criticism over recent times. With a projected income next year of over £65,000,000, the bulk of which coming from levies, it is understandable that levy payers are concerned to ensure that they are receiving good value for money”.

“Many TFA members are questioning the value of the levy and why they are compelled to pay it. Whilst a number are calling for AHDB to be scrapped, the TFA view is that it should be making successful and meaningful use of the pot of money collected under the current arrangements to move people from feeling that they are forced purchasers to a place where they truly value what AHDB is able to achieve,” said Mr Wyrill.

“Much of this rests upon establishing clear and open lines of accountability. Since levy payers have no option but to pay the levy, it is vital that accessible mechanisms exist for levy payers to hold AHDB and its Sector Boards to account. Obviously, as a statutory levy, Government has a role in ensuring that the funds received are managed to the highest standards. However, it is a concern that, DEFRA, takes too much of an executive role in decision-making and this must stop,” said Mr Wyrill.

“A major area of work which the TFA has challenged AHDB to deliver is the development of practical tools to assist the domestic farming industry to steer its way through increasingly volatile markets. AHDB needs to be at the forefront of discussions within the supply chain to develop models of long-term sustainability,” said Mr Wyrill.

“AHDB must become, more apparently, an advocate of British agriculture with Government, the wider supply chain and other stakeholders. A good example of where this should occur is holding the Government to account in terms of its implementation of the principles set out in the Bonfield report on public procurement. If we could see more domestically produced agricultural products being procured by the public sector on the basis of the balanced scorecard approach, this would go a long way to increasing the effective demand for our primary agricultural products”, said Mr Wyrill.

“Finally there is promotion. For a body charged with development of the agricultural industry, the TFA does not see how it can avoid promotion as a key activity. Parts of the organisation have been better than others in this arena. We need an overarching promotion strategy perhaps in conjunction with external partners,” said Mr Wyrill.

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