NSA concerned by Government influence on farmer levy body

The National Sheep Association (NSA) was disappointed to hear this week that the industry has lost Stuart Roberts as AHDB Beef and Lamb Board Chairman, but respects his decision to resign from the position. His decision adds weight to issues that NSA is already hugely concerned about, namely the serious risk of a complete review of the legality of levy money collection and the statutory instrument behind it. Stuart’s resignation also throws the role of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Board into question and suggests that the influence of the Government and the Treasury, at a time of Defra departmental cutbacks, appears to be of a predatory nature.

Speaking on behalf of NSA, Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “The factors behind low lamb returns, which have now continued for some months, have rightly resulted in more attention being focused to driving domestic demand that include generic promotion of lamb. We recognise that AHDB Beef and Lamb (previously Eblex) has long had a process of having to have such promotional activity signed off by Defra, but this year that sign-off process has stagnated at ministerial level, which is a hopeless state of affairs that is not helping our industry one bit. NSA understands that previously the sign-off was simply a formality, as the responsibility of allocating levy money was rightly seen as the responsibility of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Board. To witness this level of ministerial intervention this year, at a time when the industry is in great need, is inexcusable.

“I take my hat off to Stuart for making this principled decision. He would not have made it unless driven to it and I would like to thank him on behalf of NSA for making such a strong statement. Stuart’s resignation and the AHDB press release confirms weeks of speculation about the influences of Government on AHDB Beef and Lamb expenditure and takes us to a point where a serious discussion now needs to be had over the use of levy money, the influence of the Government and the role and responsibilities of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Board.”

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