Introduction to AHDB

Serving the levy payer

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain and managed as an independent organisation (independent of both commercial industry and of Government).

Our purpose is to inspire our farmers, growers and industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Our vision is for a world-class food and farming industry inspired by, and competing with the best.

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Our four core priorities:

    We believe that we can achieve our vision and purpose by focusing our efforts on four key priorities:

    • Inspiring British farming and growing to be more competitive and resilient
    • Accelerating innovation and productivity growth through coordinated R&D and knowledge exchange
    • Helping the industry understand and deliver what consumers will trust and buy
    • Delivering thought leadership and horizon scanning.

    The sort of work we do:

  • We deliver extensive research and development programmes which are delivering scientifically-robust and commercially useful outcomes for our levy payers;
  • We undertake efficient farm-level knowledge transfer programmes based on evidence both from third party science and our own R&D aimed at improving efficiency, productivity and sustainability;
  • We provide unbiased, high quality market information that helps business decision making and improves supply chain transparency;
  • We do export market development work and also domestic marketing activity to inspire and inform consumers in order to assist the economic viability of sectors which require this;
  • We raise awareness of food and where it comes from among school children; and help ensure the agriculture and horticulture industries are able to develop and attract workers with the skills needed to operate effectively.
  • We also ensure that proper account is taken of Government priorities for agriculture and the agri-food industry, where appropriate.

Agricultural sectors we support

Levy payers are at the heart of what we do. Our delivery of services to them is focused on six sectors covering about 72% of total agricultural output in the UK:

  • Pig meat in England
  • Milk in Great Britain (GB)
  • Beef and lamb in England
  • Commercial horticulture in GB
  • Cereals and oilseeds in the UK
  • Potatoes in GB

      AHDB also ensures that proper account is taken of Government priorities for agriculture and the agri-food industry, where appropriate.

      Funding and Structure:

How we are funded:

    The work of AHDB is funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain through statutory levies – not from central Government. The funds raised from each commodity sector are ring-fenced to ensure they are used only to the benefit of the sector from which they were raised.

    Statutory Instrument:

    The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Order 2008 (Statutory Instrument) defines the statutory functions of AHDB. A copy of the Statutory Instrument and a guidance note on it can be found via these links:

AHDB Strategic Plan:

AHDB publishes a three year Corporate Strategy. It includes the strategies and targets proposed by our six sector boards and also the levy rates required to deliver these plans.

AHDB Structure:

Our philosophy is that levy payers are at the heart of what we do. In order to deliver genuine levy payer focus there is a sector advisory committee (known as ‘sector board’) for each of the six commodity sectors represented by AHDB. Each sector board comprises levy payers, other stakeholders from the sector and independent members. The main AHDB Board has delegated the responsibility to each sector board to develop the most appropriate strategies to meet the challenges of the sector; to ensure the relevant levy rate is recommended in order to provide adequate funding for the required work; to monitor strategy implementation and to approve remedies where performance deviates from plan. The sector board members are appointed by AHDB.

The main AHDB Board consists of the chairman, the six chairs of the sector boards and three independent members. The main AHDB Board members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Defra, acting with Welsh Government Ministers, Scottish Ministers and the relevant Northern Ireland department. A diagram showing both the main Board members and sector advisory board members is available here.

The day-to-day management of AHDB is overseen by a Leadership Team led by the Chief Executive:

Leadership team structure diagram

Commercial Subsidiaries:

There is also one commercially trading subsidiary within the AHDB group called Meat & Livestock Commercial Services Limited (MLCSL). It is a wholly owned subsidiary of AHDB and run as a separate company, limited by guarantee, supplying carcase classification and other services primarily to the meat and livestock sectors. All its costs are fully accounted for within the company and it returns any profits to AHDB to supplement levy funds.


Collectively, taking both the levy-funded and commercial operations plus grants, AHDB has an income in excess of 60 million and employs some 490 people (380 of these are levy-funded posts). More detailed income and budgetting information is contained in the back of the Corporate Plan.

Audit and Governance:

The AHDB levy income comes under Treasury rules for the governance of public money. The National Audit Office (NAO) is responsible for the external auditing of the AHDB accounts and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) acts as AHDB’s ‘sponsor’ Government department. The AHDB Accounting Officer is accountable to Defra Ministers and Devolved Administrations on the appropriate use of levy funds and corporate governance standards applicable to public bodies. A framework document sets out the broad framework within which AHDB and Defra/Devolved Administrations are required to operate in their relationship:


AHDB is firmly committed to openness, fairness and transparency in selecting all of its suppliers of goods and services. It must do this as a matter of law under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and this approach will also enable us to develop a ‘most economically advantageous’ supply system and maximise our use of levy funds.

To this end, the AHDB website includes a procurement area (see left-hand menu bar) that lists all current procurements and provides links to enable any potential supplier to establish whether it wants to participate and how to do so.

AHDB has Standard Terms and Conditions that apply to all its contracts (or agreements) for the purchase of Goods and Services. These may be updated at any time by publication on this website and contracts are made applying the version current at the time of contracting. Suppliers are responsible for keeping themselves aware of changes. The current version applies from August 2015. Previous versions can be obtained on request to the Legal Adviser at


FOIlogo The Board of AHDB embraces the principles of openness and is committed to publishing information on this website about its board meetings, its corporate plan and its annual performance. It is compliant with the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and publishes a wide range of other information on its websites.



Background to AHDB:

On 28 June 2006, Jeff Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming, together with Devolved Ministers, announced that five levy bodies (the British Potato Council, the Meat and Livestock Commission, the Milk Development Council, the Horticultural Development Council and the Home Grown Cereals Authority) should be radically restructured and replaced by one statutory levy board on 1 April 2008.

Separate announcements were made by Ministers in the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government concerning the future of the meat bodies: Quality Meat Scotland and Hybu Cig Cymru.

The announcement followed an independent review of the five statutory levy bodies in 2005 by Rosemary Radcliffe and an industry consultation:

The predecessor levy boards were dissolved by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Order 2008 which replaced them with a new body named the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

It was confirmed in December 2007 that AHDB would be co-located in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.