THE AHDB has proposed a new five-year strategy, with the aim of improving value for its levy payers.

The strategy for 2021-26 outlines how it will respond to the challenges facing agriculture in the future, which includes supporting producers as they deal with new international trading arrangements, leaving the EU, environmental and sustainability concerns, changes to UK farm and land policy, and shifts in consumer behaviour.

Change will focus on significantly improving levy payers’ engagement and say on AHDB priorities for their sector and crop, including how much levy is collected and where it is spent. Delivering value for money and designing a modern levy system is at the heart of the future, starting with horticulture and potatoes.

Also included is a commitment to a ballot every five years on the future of the levy, ensuring levy payers have a greater say in designing AHDB work programmes and priorities.

AHDB chairman Nicholas Saphir said: “We have listened very carefully to levy payers’ concerns about delivering value for money in such challenging times, and ensuring our work programmes are fit for purpose. We fully recognise there are genuine differences between challenges facing sectors, crops and species and that one size of offering does not fit all. Levies in the future must be set to reflect the value provided and work priorities clearly agreed with levy payers.

“In addition, AHDB will review the current tools, services and products across all its sectors to see how they are being used by farmers and growers. We will keep listening to levy payers with open board meetings, new levy payer user groups and developing interaction both in person and online.”

Responding to AHDB’s new five-year strategy, NFU president Minette Batters said: “It’s great to see such a strong focus on food advocacy, farm business performance and technical advice within the new strategy – some of the main things we highlighted in our case for AHDB review.

“AHDB has clearly listened to the industry and its proposals to improve transparency and governance will be welcome news for many farmers and growers.

“This consultation comes at a challenging time as our sector faces significant uncertainty in the coming weeks and years. Nevertheless, it is crucial that any multi-annual strategy results in an organisation that offers fantastic value for levy investment, alongside greater agility and accountability as farmers and growers meet the challenge of sustainable production this coming decade.”