Funding Your Future 2023 - Dairy Sector Chair open letter

An open letter to levy payers from Lyndon Edwards, AHDB Dairy Sector Council chair.

Last year, levy payers shared their views as part of the AHDB Shape the Future process to influence what priority areas the levy should be invested in. The clear message was that the following areas were the most important:

  • Promoting the reputation of dairy and dairy farming
  • Data and evidence to underpin our reputation
  • Exports

Since then, the Dairy Sector Council has ensured that those areas have been the focus of AHDB delivery for the sector. The highlights over the last year have been:

  • Marketing – The AHDB team designed and implemented marketing activities to influence attitudes towards dairy, such as the We Eat Balanced TV, retailer and social media campaign that reached 43 million adults. Nine out of ten consumers agreed that the TV advert communicated that dairy and meat can be part of a healthy balanced diet
  • Promoting the reputation of dairy and dairy farming – We protect and promote the reputation of British dairy and dairy farming to consumers and government. The AHDB team has stressed the benefits of eating British dairy and challenged the reporting of facts relating to dairy by the BBC, some plant-based brands and several academic studies
  • Exports – Total dairy exports were 1.2m tonnes in 2022. The extra demand from overseas sales helps to support our industry by protecting prices from the impact of an oversupplied domestic marketplace. We continue to focus on further growth in North Americathe Middle East and China
  • Genetics – AHDB’s Genetics services provide evaluations of over one million cows each year. This covers genetic and genomic evaluations, and other tools and resources. It is estimated that 95% of dairy semen sold in Great Britain now uses the AHDB’s independent genetic and genomics data

Levy payers have asked us to do more

  • Our levy payers have asked for more marketing campaigns and for a greater focus on young adults: We are investigating the cost of increasing the frequency of our marketing campaigns so that we can maintain the momentum on shifting consumers’ attitudes to dairy. In addition, we are costing up a campaign for 18–24-year-olds to promote dairy as part of an affordable, healthy and sustainable diet
  • Our levy payers have also asked to do more on defending the reputation of dairy: We have done some good work in this area, but we need to do more to proactively promote our reputational evidence. This will need additional resources and external strategic input, plus support from other industry bodies. Specifically on education, we have reprioritised current funding and doubled AHDB spend behind educational work with young consumers and schoolchildren
  • Our levy payers have further asked us to stimulate more export demand: In order to grow dairy exports sales, we are developing a long-term plan for exports, which includes greater in-market support and increased inward visits from international buyers. Part of this plan is to establish how we can pull in consistent external funding to complement levy funds, like many of the main dairy-exporting nations around the world

Why a levy increase?

We need more funding to do the additional activities that our levy payers have asked us to do. 

We are also conscious that the levy rate has stayed the same for around 20 years. Since then, the spending power of levy funds has significantly decreased because of inflation – by around 40% over the last decade alone – and there have also been changes in AHDB’s VAT status which impacted our spending power. 

If a levy increase of 0.02ppl is supported (the additional cost would be £330 year for the average GB dairy farm producing 1.65m litres per annum), we can continue to address the issues that levy payers and stakeholders raise and focus on bringing more value to the priority areas that levy payers asked for.

If you would like to share your views, speak to your normal AHDB contact or email us at

We look forward to hearing from you.

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