24 May 2000
Potato Council survives review
By FWi staff
THE BRITISH Potato Council (BPC) will continue to follow its current remit for at least another five years – despite most of its levy-payers wanting it scrapped.
The ministry of agriculture announced on Wednesday (24 May) no change for the council, which promotes potatoes and funds research, until the next scheduled review in 2005.
But a poll of growers and producers conducted as part of this years review found the majority believed the council should not continue.
Many levy-payers have complained about the cost of financing the BPC at a time when potato prices are depressed.
The poll revealed that 55% of levy-payers who responded wanted the BPC abolished. This included 53% of growers and 67% of customers.
The balance tipped very slightly in favour of continuation when data was considered in terms of a weighted basis – hectares grown and tonnes purchased.
On this basis 54% of growers and 52% of purchasers were in favour of is continuing.
General manager of the BPC Nigel Jupe said he was “delighted” the review had decided the council should continue as before.
But he acknowledged: “I recognise that not everybody holds this view, particularly at a time when agriculture is under severe pressure.”
He said communications must be improved to ensure all levy-payers see a return on their investment.
For while those involved in BPC activities were ” highly positive”, Mr Jupe admitted that other levy-payers “remain almost totally unaware of the work and its potential”.
Mr Jupe added that an economic evaluation and consultation with industry which formed the other two strands of the review had been “strongly positive”.
Farm minister Nick Brown said: “There is no doubt in our minds that the BPC provides good value for money and that the work it carries out is essential for the well-being of the potato industry.”
Mr Brown said although the majority of levy-payers wanted the BPC scrapped, on the weighted vote basis the majority supported its continuation.
The BPC, which was set up in 1997, collected 11.4 million in levies and other income in its first two years of operation.