Economist to oversee agricultural levy board reforms

Economist John Bridge has been appointed to lead the radical restructuring of Britain’s agricultural levy boards.

Dr Bridge has over 40 years’ experience of working in the private, public and academic sectors. He takes up his new post next month.

As chairman designate of the new statutory agricultural and horticultural levy board, Dr Bridge will oversee the replacement of five existing levy boards.

The British Potato Council, Meat and Livestock Commission, Milk Development Council, Horticultural Development Council and Home-Grown Cereals Authority will be abolished.

Dr Bridge’s appointment was announced by DEFRA on Tuesday (24 October).

Junior DEFRA minister Jeff Rooker said the reform process would be radical and would include a review of levy rates.

“The new structure will provide better value for money and offer greater accountability for farmers and growers.”

Dr Bridge acknowledged that his new role would be challenging, but said he was looking forward to improving accountability and services to levy payers.

It is expected that the new levy board will take on some of its statutory functions in December 2007, followed by a full vesting day on 1 April 2008.