Farmers have just three weeks left to makes their views known on proposals which could radically change how agricultural levies are calculated and spent.

The government is currently consulting on the recommendations of the levy board review, which was published by economist Rosemary Radcliffe in Nov 2005.

The review concluded that statutory levies should remain, for the next two years at least, but the bodies’ structure should be reformed. The aim, it said, was to make them more effective, cost efficient and more accountable to levy payers.

Farmers Weekly knows that the future direction of the levy bodies is an issue that producers across the UK have strong views on.

For example, a poll carried out by FWi last year found that 76% of producers would stop paying levies if contributions were voluntary.

But FW also knows that most farmers won’t have the time to respond to the consultation in full.

It has therefore produced a five minute survey to allow farmers to contribute. All completed surveys will be entered into a prize draw to give you a chance of winning £100.

To complete the survey follow this link …

All the questions can be answered without seeing the full text of Mrs Radcliffe’s report. But the document can be found on DEFRA’s website along with full details of the consultation which closes on 3 Feb.

 Information supplied will only be used in aggregate form so all views expressed will be completely confidential.

 KEY QUESTIONS IN THE CONSULTATION

 Is it right that statutory levies should continue?

Rosemary Radcliffe concluded that farmers should continue, at least in the short-term, to pay statutory levies but changes should be made to make sure that levies deliver what the industries most need. Do you agree?

How should levies be calculated?

The report concluded that it would be desirable to move to value-based collection arrangements for all products. It did not propose changes to the horticulture, milk or oilseeds levies but suggested that the arrangements for potatoes, meat and cereals should change to being based on turnover.

What should levy money be spent on?

The review decided that some activities are “always appropriate” for levy bodies (R&D and benchmarking), some are “sometimes appropriate” (producer market information) but some are not appropriate (general marketing campaigns). Do you agree that generic advertising is best left to the big retailers?

Should processors pay levies as well as farmers?

Rosemary Radcliffe acknowledged that the arguments for and against producer-only levies were finely balanced. But she concluded that current arrangements should stay as they are and those processors that already pay levy should continue to do so. Do you agree?

To complete the survey follow this link …