AHDB recommends 20-33% levy rate increases to ministers

The AHDB is to recommend that ministers increase levy rates for farmers and processors by 20-33% in four sectors, after receiving support from industry bodies, the levy board has said.

Following approval from major industry stakeholders, the AHDB announced on Friday 15 December that it had recommended to ministers levy rate increases in all four sectors it supports – pork, beef and lamb in England, dairy in Great Britain, and cereals and oilseeds in the United Kingdom.

See also: AHDB seeks 20-33% rise in farmer levy contributions

Will Jackson, AHDB’s divisional director for engagement, said: “The levy rate has not increased for over 20 years in some sectors and our spending power has greatly deteriorated over that time due to inflation and the loss of our VAT status.

“If a levy increase is approved, AHDB can continue to deliver the valuable things that levy payers have told us are important to them, and increase our activities where levy payers have asked us to do more in order to meet their expectations.”

October campaign

Since October, the AHDB has been sharing plans to increase the levy through its Funding Your Future campaign.

Discussions with industry and levy payers have taken place widely and culminated in a live streamed event where levy payers could ask questions about the levy increase.

The proposals, published by the sector councils in October, have now been put to government ministers and the devolved administrations for them to make a decision, which is expected in the first quarter of 2024.

The biggest increase, of 33%, is suggested for the dairy sector, which would take the farmer contribution from 0.6p/litre to 0.8p/litre, if accepted (see panel).

Beef, lamb and cereal producers are looking at a slightly more modest 25% increase, while pig producers are being asked to pay 20% more.

But the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) said it remained to be convinced that the AHDB levy rates should be raised.

Because of the compulsory nature of the levies, the final decision to be taken by ministers should be informed by direct ballots of all AHDB levy payers, sector by sector, insisted TFA chief executive George Dunn.

“Whereas farmers and growers can make a choice about whether they want to be members of organisations such as the TFA or NFU, they do not have the same choice in respect of AHDB,” he added.

“Levies are due whether they value the service they are receiving or not.”

In addition, the TFA does not feel the AHDB has given an adequate account for the benefit it provides.

“Simply increasing levy rates without giving levy payers any sort of mandate to support or disapprove of those changes will inevitably lead to more levy payers seeking to use the nuclear option of seeking sector-by-sector ballots on the future of AHDB as a whole,” said Mr Dunn.

Paul Temple, a mixed farmer based in East Yorkshire and a former AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds chairman, said: “I understand the need to increase levy rates. However, there is a lack of ambition to create a more focused livestock marketing reputation body at the AHDB.

“Furthermore, the AHDB has not allowed the cereals and oilseeds sector to become a more efficient organisation that focuses on its entirely different requirements and carries an unnecessary administration and management burden without actually having a sector director.” 

Farmers Weekly is seeking reaction to this breaking news story from other farming organisations.

Proposed levy rates recommended to ministers

Beef and Lamb (levy rate last set in 2011)

Cattle (excluding Calves)

  • Producer £4.05 to £5.06/head
  • Slaughterer/exporter £1.35 to £1.69/head


  • Producer 8p to 10p/head
  • Slaughterer/exporter 8p to 10p/head


  • Producer 60p to 75p/head
  • Slaughterer/exporter 20p to 25p/head

Cereals and Oilseeds (levy rate last set in 2011)

  • Cereal grower 46p/t to 58p/t
  • Cereal buyer 3.8p/t to 4.8p/t
  • Cereal processor (human/industrial) 9.5p/t to 12p/t
  • Cereal processor (feed) 4.6p/t to 5.8p/t
  • Oilseeds 75p/t to 94p/t

Dairy (set more than 20 years ago)

  • Dairy farmer 0.06p/litre to 0.08p/litre

Pork (levy rate last set in 1996)

  • Pig producer 85p to £1.02
  • Pig processor 20p to 24p
See more