22 November 1996

Yes to potato development

DEMANDS by growers for a Potato Industry Development Council after the abolition of the Potato Marketing Board next year have been agreed by government.

Farm minister, Douglas Hogg, announced on Tuesday that the council would be responsible for commissioning and assisting research and development, collection and dissemination of statistics and promotion and development of exports and domestic products.

The council will be funded by a dual statutory levy – an area levy on growers, which is expected to be £35/ha (£14/acre), and a tonnage contribution of about £20/t, charged at the first point of sale and paid by potato buyers.

Mr Hoggs response to a parliamentary question from Sir Ralph Howell (Con, Norfolk North) reveals MAFFs support for the stance taken by growers in their poll earlier this year.

Producers voted by four to one for the setting up of the GBPO. Nearly two thirds agreed that the transfer of the PMBs residual funds should move to a body controlled by growers.

Alasdair Fairbairn, PMB chief executive, said details of the transfer or the PMBs assets and liabilities to a successor body would be discussed by board members on Monday, before its annual general meeting in London on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, PMB assets were about £5m, but the sale of Sutton Bridge should increase that. &#42