AHDB evolution supported by Scottish Land & EstatesPress Release
Reform rather than removal of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
would serve farming and rural business best, Scottish Land & Estates has said.
SLE has entered its response to a DEFRA-led consultation on the future of the board and the functions it provides. The board currently undertakes a range of research and development activities across the UK, with some functions shared north of the border with Quality Meat Scotland. The majority of AHDB’s funding is provided through a statutory levy on farmers.
Scottish Land & Estates said there remained an important need for a body fulfilling the role of the AHDB but that significant effort was required to ensure that the needs of levy payers North of the Border were being served by the organisation.
Eleanor Kay, Policy Officer at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “With the change in agricultural policy, trading environment and market conditions resulting from Brexit it is imperative the AHDB reflects the needs of the levy-payer in the short, medium and long term.
“We support the continued existence of the AHDB and flaws in the current structure should be addressed as opposed to disbanding the board all together. Most developed nations have some form of statutory levy and the levy mechanism ensures that everyone has a stake in developing the industry.
“There exists a perception that the AHDB is too close to government. There needs to be more clarity about the role it provides – either as a coordinating hub for industry development or as the lead deliverer of research, development and knowledge exchange.
“Whilst the work of the AHDB is vital, its communication of knowledge needs to be improved in order to engage as effectively as possible with levy payers. Improved communication and a more collaborative approach to knowledge exchange would deliver valuable benefits to Scottish farmers.
“Part of this also comes down to its governance, with a more democratic and open route to electing board members – as well as a more diverse leadership – likely to improve confidence amongst levy payers that the AHDB is delivering for their needs.
“There is much good work to build on and with the right changes to its approach in Scotland, AHDB can deliver for agriculture and horticulture over the next decade and beyond.”