Following the announcement of the consultation on the future of the AHDB, the Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG) published the following statement. The Group’s chair, Phil Pearson, Group Development Director at APS Group, said: “The Growers’ Better Levy Group strongly believes that research and development investment into the horticulture sectors are something that the UK government should invest in to allow these already thriving and innovative sectors to further flourish and grow.”
The group supports the following principles:
1. The future of research, innovation, and development remains very important to the sector and the critical work must continue.
2. The critical work is defined as the horizon scanning for priority pest and disease threats, for appropriate crop protection tools, and for the application of on-label, emergency, and EAMU’s.
3. This work is essential for horticultural crops to thrive. The fairest way for this work to be funded is for every grower to pay. This requires a statutory framework in legislation that exists today. We require
that DEFRA retains the discretionary power to raise a statutory levy and work with the industry to change the existing statutory instrument to make it fit for today’s industry, to define what money is raised and how it is spent in the future.
“Our group believes that a new body should undertake critical work, ideally one that achieves collaboration across all horticultural crops so that we can achieve economies of scale. We do not believe that AHDB should lead this work because the organization needs radical reform
and will need new and meaningful grower governance in place that provides value for money and full cost transparency.
“Our group estimates that the costs should be somewhere in the region of 10-15% of the previous statutory levy being raised. We also believe that the industry should be allowed to plan out the R&D priorities in a 5-year plan and growers should be provided with the opportunity to vote on the plan. If a majority votes for the plan, the money will be raised by everyone. This emulates the model in New Zealand that funds NZ Plant & Food research. Otherwise, this work will be funded on a voluntary levy basis where only those growers that pay will benefit from the work.
“For fairness, each sector of horticulture must be allowed to vote on proposals for the level of levy raised and how their levy will be spent. Each sector is defined in Schedule 3, part 4 of the SI which should be amended to divide the field vegetables’ sector further into the following sectors:
• Carrots and other root vegetables (parsnips, beetroot)
• Salad Crops (leafy, herbs, baby leaf, celery, radish)
• Alliums (leeks, onions, spring onions)
• Vining peas and beans
• Exotics, which includes all other vegetables"
The GBLG includes businesses from all relevant crop sectors: tree fruit, soft fruit, protected edibles, mushrooms, field vegetables, ornamentals, as well as crop associations and research organizations. The representation also includes businesses and research bodies in the devolved nations.