Shape the Future: FAQs

Find the answers to your questions and more information on what Shape the Future means for levy payers and AHDB.

Frequently asked questions

  • A breakdown of the results is available on our website: https://ahdb.org.uk/shapethefuture

    The majority of all the priorities and workstreams across all sectors scored at least four or higher. All new and returning sector council members were ratified through the process (received more than 50% of the vote) 

    Sector councils will now meet in June and again in July to consider all the results and feedback. This will inform how your levy will be invested. 

    This autumn, AHDB will hold an open meeting for levy payers so that sector councils can discuss the results of the vote and what that means for levy investment.

    In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted about how your feedback is making a difference.

  • More than 10,000 (10,537) levy payers registered to have their say when voting opened on 11 April 2022. By the end of the voting period (9 May 2022), 4,478 levy payers had voted, which means that 42% of registered levy payers took part. 

    We made it our mission to engage with as many levy payers as possible to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to have a say on their levy and are pleased with the registration and voting numbers. 

    We believe, in comparison to other agricultural consultations, that it represents a good level of engagement across all sectors.

  • We believe, in comparison to other industry consultations, this represents a good level of engagement and means that we have more input from levy payers than we’ve ever had before to shape funding decisions that are made by sector councils. 

    Over 10,000 levy payers, across Beef, Lamb, Dairy, Cereals and Oilseeds and Pork registered to have their say. 

    Of these registered levy payers 42% (4,478) went on to give us detailed feedback on the work we do. 

    Over the 17 weeks of campaigning, we made it our mission to give levy payers the time and opportunity to have a say.

  • It wouldn’t be right for AHDB to decide its own existence. That is something the industry and Defra should do. 

    The Shape the Future vote allowed levy payers to tell us what they value most and what products, tools and services we should deliver with their levy. 

    Crucially, the power to call a yes/no ballot remains available to all sectors, and is detailed within the Statutory Instrument, which is the legal framework setting out the statutory functions of AHDB.

 

  • No decisions have been made yet. The sector councils will meet over the next two months to discuss all the results and feedback from Shape the Future. Once they have made their decisions and have been agreed by the AHDB board it will be shared with all levy payers.

  • We worked with sector councils, spoke to levy payers and key stakeholders to identify the main issues that industry is facing. We then looked at our current activities and considered how we are addressing these issues. This helped us identify the industry ‘priorities’ and areas of work we deliver, or ‘workstreams’ for each sector.  

    We worked with an independent insight and research company to look at how we could describe the questions in a way that would make the most sense to levy payers. This was then tested on a group of levy payers to ensure that it made sense and could be quantified into clear results.

    Levy payers were asked how strongly they agreed with each industry priority rating them from 1 – 5, where 1 was not important to me and 5 was very important. They were also asked to rate each area of work AHDB currently delivers to support each industry priority on the same scale. There was a free text box so levy payers could share priorities we’d missed as well as any other feedback they wanted to contribute.
  • Absolutely not! We are fully committed to ensuring that all levy payers can get in touch with us to share any concerns, ideas and questions that they may have. 

    The e-mail address that we set up for this process will remain open as we believe that shaping the future of farming is a continuous and evolving process.

    If you have any further questions or need support, please email shapethefuture@ahdb.org.uk or contact your local knowledge exchange manager: https://ahdb.org.uk/meet-the-team 

    You can also contact any of our senior team or your board and sector council representatives with your thoughts: https://ahdb.org.uk/board-and-leadership-team 

    If you would like to speak to someone, you can call us on 024 7601 6237. Someone will note your query and put you in touch with your local KE manager or the member of the AHDB who is best placed to help you.

  • Your sector council is made up of and represents the levy payer voice at AHDB. They are your voice within AHDB. They will guide and steer everything we do.

    They’ll make the funding decisions about what work we deliver using all the feedback from the Shape the Future vote. So, they really couldn’t have a more important role in how AHDB is run.

    Giving levy payers a greater say in how AHDB is run and what we deliver for their businesses is an ongoing process, and the only way we can stay relevant to the industry. Sector councils allow us to receive feedback directly from those using our services to ensure that we’re providing the right support needed to face the big challenges ahead.

    We expect that by the time of the next vote, levy payers will be continuously feeding into sector councils about the products, tools and services that matter to them, as well as any challenges that they are experiencing. This will provide the basis for the next vote. 

    In the meantime, the e-mail address that we set up for this process will remain open as we believe that shaping the future of farming is a continuous and evolving process. If you have any further questions or need support, please email shapethefuture@ahdb.org.uk or contact your local knowledge exchange manager: https://ahdb.org.uk/meet-the-team 

    You can also contact any of our senior team or your board and sector council representatives with your thoughts: https://ahdb.org.uk/board-and-leadership-team 

    If you would like to speak to someone, you can call us on 024 7601 6237. Someone will note your query and put you in touch with your local KE manager or the member of the AHDB who is best placed to help you.

 

Background:

  • To give you a greater say on how your levy is invested, AHDB is invited all levy payers to Shape the Future of farming in your sector(s) to tell us what work your think we should prioritise to support the industry.

    • As part of our strategy for change 2021 – 2026, we made a public commitment to give you a say on our work every five years. This campaign is how we’re delivering on that promise
    • From now on, we are introducing annual votes on issues that are important to you, e.g. who is appointed to your sector council, and specific areas of work important to the success of your business
    • This vote delivered on the promise made by Secretary of State, George Eustice, to give levy payers a say in spring 2022 on the work that AHDB does
    • We have the full support of Defra on this approach, which endorsed the process
  • The registration period opened on Tuesday 7 Dec 2021 and closed on Thursday 31 March 2022 at midday, which was a total period of 17 weeks.

    The vote opened on 11 April and closed on 9 May 2022 at midday, which was a total period of four weeks.

  • Levy payers could vote online or by post. 

    Levy payers that registered for a postal vote received a hardcopy pack in the post, which had to be returned to Civica (the independent company appointed to run the vote) by midday on Monday 9 May. 

    Civica provided a telephone and email service for those who may have experienced issues getting onto the portal online. AHDB also provided a telephone and email service for those who had queries about the process.
  •  We asked levy payers to register because we don’t have contact details for all levy payers. Often the levy is collected on our behalf via a third party, e.g. processors, so we wanted to ensure that all eligible levy payers had the chance to have a direct say.

  • We have details of the levy payers who have requested to keep in touch with us, for instance by signing up to newsletters. Our database has around half of the total population of levy payers on it, and those are people and organisations that are engaging with AHDB on various projects and strands of work. 

    Our aim during the Shape the Future campaign was to reach as many levy payers as possible using every channel, including via processors and newsletters, podcasts, press articles and social media activity.
  • Yes. Levy payers were required to register for each sector that they operate in. Civica (the independent company appointed to run the vote) then contacted levy payers with separate voting links for each of the sectors that they’d registered with, allowing levy payers to have a say in all sectors that they were eligible for. 

    For example, a beef and cereals business will have had one vote for beef and one for cereals. This was because each sector has different questions that were relevant for them.

  • To be eligible to then vote, a business must have met the following criteria in the 12 months leading up to the first day of the vote period:

    • Cereals & Oilseeds: any business that paid a cereal buyer levy, a cereal processor levy, the cereal grower levy or the oilseed grower levy in the UK
    • Beef, Lamb and Pork: any farmer that kept pigs, sheep or cattle in England, any processor that slaughtered pigs, sheep or cattle in England, or any exporter that purchased pigs, sheep or cattle in England for export
    • Dairy: any milk producer in Great Britain

    Each business got one entry per sector, so if a business operates in multiple sectors, that business got more than one entry. As an example, if a levy payer owns five farms, but they all come under one business, then the business would get one entry. If the five farms are all separate businesses, then there would be one entry per business, so five votes in total.

    If the business operates across more than one sector (say, beef and cereals), then the levy payer got to have a say in each sector that they were eligible and had registered for.

  • Levy payers were asked about three areas: 

    1. The main challenges facing your sector(s): Beef, Lamb, Pork, Dairy or Cereals & Oilseeds
    2. The areas of work AHDB delivers to address each of these challenges
    3. The membership of the Sector Council, who are your representatives at AHDB

    Levy payers were then able to rank the challenges facing each of their sectors in terms of importance. Then:

    • levy payers had the chance to tell us if we’ve missed anything that they would like us to focus on
    • levy payers were able to rank the areas of work that AHDB deliver for them in terms of importance
    • levy payers were able to say if they agreed to the appointments to their sector(s)
  • The campaign has cost around £120,000 in total, which is about £30,000 per sector. This represents 0.3% of annual levy payer funding, and we believe that this represents good value for money. 

    A big element of this cost is from producing and sending a letter to all our known levy payers. This was an essential part of the communications plan to ensure we engaged with digital and non-digital audiences. 

    We endeavoured to get all levy payers involved in our Shape the Future campaign to give them a direct say, for the first time, on how their levy is invested. 

    Communicating with levy payers is a huge part of what AHDB does every day, so we made use of our own people and existing newsletters, emails, events, press and social media to raise awareness. 

    Activity was integrated into business-as-usual communications plans and also included some additional paid activity, i.e. advertisements with trade press. 

    We made big efficiencies from delivering cross-sector communications, using existing staff and reducing other non-urgent planned communications activity.
  • Because farming is getting tougher and because of your feedback, we understand the need to give you a greater say on the work we do to support the industry and how your levy is invested. So that we can better serve your needs, we are changing:

    • How your voice is heard by introducing this 5-yearly process to capture your views on how your levy is invested and what work you want us to fund
    • How levy investment decisions are made and how AHDB is held to account for delivery by introducing sector councils, which are your representatives and ambassadors within AHDB. You’ll also get a say on who the new members are through the Shape the Future process
    • We are committed to being more open with industry and a key change already made is ensuring more levy payers sit on the main AHDB Board
    How AHDB is structured internally to drive greater efficiencies – we’ve already reduced the size of our top team and restructured how our teams work to be more efficient for you
  • If you have any further questions or need support, please email shapethefuture@ahdb.org.uk or contact your local KE manager who can talk you through the process.

    If you would like to speak to someone, telephone our Bureau team on 024 7601 6237. They will note your query and put you in touch with your local KE manager or the member of the AHDB who is best placed to help.

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