DEFRA HAS launched a consultation with the potato industry to seek views on the future, effectiveness and efficiency of the British Potato Council.

The consultation forms part of the organisation‘s Quinquennial Review.

The purpose of the review is to establish whether there is still a need for the council and if any changes need to be made to its functions and remit.  

“According to our research, growers have expressed widely differing views on the ideal format for a potato industry development council,” said the National Farmers Union‘s Graham Nichols.

“The most consistent response has been in support of research and development.”

The BPC is the body charged with commissioning near-market research and development on behalf of the potato industry, and promoting potatoes to consumers at home and in export markets.

An independent economic evaluation of the council, carried out by the University of Cambridge, has been published this week (w/e Sept 24).

A key conclusion is that the BPC appears to undertake each of its core activities in a well managed and focused way.

But there are broader questions as to whether these activities are best suited to the Levy Board structure and how they relate to the wider needs of society that require further evaluation.

A poll of BPC levy payers has also started this week, where levy-payers will be able to register views on whether there should continue to be a statutory levy-funded development council for the potato industry in Great Britain.

The review will be completed by February 2005 and if the BPC passes, DEFRA will initiate a quality of services review to develop any recommendations.

The BPC will have until the next review in a further five years to implement resulting changes.