The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has given a warm welcome to the decision by DEFRA and the Devolved Administrations to review the operation and performance of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn said “Members of the Tenant Farmers Association have been calling for a review of AHDB for some time. Indeed, earlier in the year the TFA’s National Chairman, James Gray, wrote to DEFRA Minister, George Eustice calling for a review, so we are delighted to see the Government’s swift action”.
AHDB derives the bulk of its income from a statutory levy generated from the farming community, which delivers around £60 million per annum to AHDB which it spends across its six, sector boards.
“£60 million per year is a sizeable budget in comparison to other organisations within the sector. Of course, it could be argued that it is small by comparison to the business development budgets within other sectors of the economy. However, this is money taken on a mandatory basis from the profits of hard-working farmers who need to be assured that it is being well spent, and invested to deliver value for the industry into the long term,” said Mr Dunn.
“The key criteria which must be central to this review is how we measure the value that AHDB delivers to the industry as a whole. As we move into the post Brexit era, which will present both opportunities and challenges for the UK agricultural industry, it is vital that every penny of the budget at the disposal of AHDB is used to drive the sustainability, resilience and profitability of UK agriculture and horticulture,” said Mr Dunn.
“There is also more that AHDB can do to improve accountability including holding more open meetings of its full and sector boards, providing greater transparency on board appointments and making itself open to a regular poll of levy payers to determine whether it should continue in its current form, become voluntary or cease to exist altogether,” said Mr Dunn.
“To be clear, the TFA is not seeking the abolition of AHDB but we do need it to demonstrate its value by setting out exactly what it will deliver in return for the resources the industry makes available to it,” said Mr Dunn.
The TFA’s National Chairman, James Gray, Junior National Vice Chairman, Robert Martin and Chief Executive, George Dunn are meeting the AHDB’s Chairman, Peter Kendall and Chief Executive, Jane King this week to discuss the review.