26 February 1999
Spud levy up 4%

By Isabel Davies

POTATO levy rates will be increased by 4% from July, although there will be no radical changes to the way they are collected .

The move follows a British Potato Council (BPC) recommendation to the government that the grower levy for the 1999 year should be increased from £35/ha to £36.50/ha.

The BPC believes that the levy, which has remained unchanged at £35/ha since the council was established in 1997, should be increased to offset a decline in the potato planting area.

The BPC made the proposals after asking key industry players whether they wanted to continue funding the council at existing levels.

The BPC spends more than £6.5 million a year, mainly on promotional activities and research and development work.

The Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) is now consulting on the proposed 4% rise and also on recommendations to change existing collecting arrangements for the purchaser-levy.

MAFF officials are considering changes to the purchaser levy from a first point-of-sale charge to one paid by purchasers each time potatoes are moved on.

Exemptions would apply if potatoes were going straight for domestic consumption or if total purchases were less than 100 tonnes a year.

The BPC claims that changes to the system would allow the purchaser levy to be reduced from 21p/tonne to 15p/tonne while maintaining or even boosting total revenues.