Potato growers are to be given the opportunity to vote on the future of the statutory levy and whether it should continue, the AHDB has announced.
Growers Peter Thorold, John Bratley and Simon Redden delivered nearly 200 requests for a ballot to the AHDB’s Rob Clayton and Rebecca Geraghty at their Stoneleigh Park headquarters on Tuesday 8 December.
Requests will now be validated by the board to see if a formal ballot process needs to be triggered, with the threshold of 103 requests from businesses that have paid a levy in the past 12 months.
Alison Levett, potato sector board interim chairman, said: “While we are confident we can demonstrate our investment of the levy has brought tangible benefits for individual growers and the industry as a whole, we fully recognise the need to be responsive to the significant challenges ahead.”
It comes as farmers are being invited to have their say on major changes planned for the AHDB. A proposed five-year strategy for the organisation was published by the levy board on Monday (7 December).
Ms Levett said the AHDB is looking at alternative ways of calculating the potato levy, as it is currently based solely on planted area and does not take into account when crops are lost or destroyed.
The new strategy will propose a “claw-back” repayment mechanism for growers in the event of crop loss due to floods, for example, so they are not disadvantaged.
AHDB chairman Nicholas Saphir said: “The ballot is not a means for expressing discontent with the way the levy is collected or spent, or how the AHDB operates, it is solely about whether the AHDB will continue to deliver statutory levy-funded services and products to the potatoes sector or not.”