27 November 1998

Pulse men opt out

FOUR northern merchants and a southern co-op are refusing to collect the voluntary levy which funds variety evaluation and agronomy work for pulse crops.

About half the PGROs levy-funded annual R&D budget of about £215,000 is used to support the Recommended Lists for pulses. But it could be more, says PGRO director Geoffrey Gent.

Unlike the HGCA levy which is statutory, the PGROs is voluntary, he explains. At 50p/t + VAT on all sales it is collected from growers and passed on by merchants and co-ops. "We know what the total figure should be and we reckon we get about 85% of it."

Leakage through farm to farm trade accounts for 10% of the shortfall, he estimates. The other 5% represents potential contributions from four northern merchants and Hants-based co-operative Group Cereal Services which are unwilling to join the 10-year-old scheme.

GCS chairman David Margesson explains that relatively few of his 800 members grow pulses and none have asked that the levy be collected. However, they are all free to contribute if they wish, he points out. "For us to do it would introduce administrative complications. I dont see why we should spend money doing it."