Growers to vote in early 2021 on future of AHDB potato levy

Britain’s potato growers are to vote on whether to keep the statutory AHDB potato levy in February 2021.

The yes or no vote on the future of AHDB Potatoes and the work it delivers on behalf of GB potatoes growers and buyers will take place from mid-February 2021 for four weeks.

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The confirmation comes after 8.5% of potatoes levy payers, or 176 potato growing or buying businesses, submitted valid requests for a ballot. This is above the 5% required under the rules to trigger the ballot.

It will follow a similar ballot over the future of the AHDB horticulture levy, which is scheduled for January 2021.

The AHDB says it will contact potato growers and buyers in the coming weeks to ensure they are aware of the ballot. Each potato growing or buying business that has paid levy in the 12 months up to the ballot closing is entitled to one vote.

The levy body is encouraging all potatoes levy payers to make their vote count and is holding a series of virtual “town hall” meetings in January and February 2021 to help them make an informed decision. Growers are also encouraged to explore a new area of the AHDB website to find out what they get for their levy. 

AHDB chairman Nicholas Saphir said: “We are in no way underestimating the huge variation in sentiment towards the AHDB, but we also want our levy payers to make an informed decision about our continued existence and what they would lose if the levy was stopped.

“We would urge all potato growing and buying businesses to talk to us about our work and future plans through the town hall meetings or one to one with their regional knowledge exchange manager.”

The ballot will be run by an independent company called UK Engage. Once complete, the results of the ballot will be submitted to the farming ministers in England, Wales and Scotland, who will decide on the future of the statutory potato levy.

The levy for 2020-21 is £42.62/ha for growers and £0.1858/t for potato buyers.

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