Horticulture and Potatoes activity update

2021 levy rates, wind-down and transition of all AHDB potatoes and AHDB Horticulture activity.

Consultation on AHDB Order 2008 (Changes to AHDB Statutory Instrument) now live

17 November 2021

Government has opened a consultation on proposals for legislative reforms to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Order 2008 (the AHDB Statutory Instrument).

The consultation will be open until 10th January 2022.

The proposed changes seek to establish the legislative foundations for a reformed AHDB and sit alongside improvements already underway to the structure and governance of AHDB to deliver a more efficient and focused organisation giving value for money and greater accountability to levy payers in the future.

The consultation proposals take forward the recommendations from the Request for Views and responds to the outcome of the recent ballots in the horticulture and potato sectors.

The four main elements are to:

  • End statutory levies for horticulture and potatoes: Respect the outcome of the recent ballots in horticulture and potato sectors in Great Britain by ending the statutory levies in these two sectors from the start of the financial year in 2022.
  • Provide a duty to run a five yearly vote on work programmes: Improve accountability to levy payers through a new duty to deliver a vote every five years on sector work programmes setting out how the levy will be spent – this is what we are already embarked on with our Shape the Future vote in Spring 2022 (The separate ability to trigger a yes/no ballot by 5% of levy payers in a sector is proposed to remain in the legislation).
  • Give AHDB scope to provide services across all UK Ag sectors: Flexibility in future for the AHDB to provide services (where they are requested by industry) to other non-levy paying agricultural sectors on a commercial or voluntary levy basis (where the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations agree that there are benefits to this).
  • Raise the ceiling for English sheep levy: The current levy rate charged for English sheep is at the maximum allowable. Raising this limit will create more flexibility for English sheep sector to request additional AHDB services (such as export market development).

Previous update:

9 November 2021

Following the ballot of potato and horticulture levy payers earlier this year (2021), the AHDB Board has been in communication with government ministers and has taken the decision to wind-down statutory levy-funded potato and horticulture operations.

UK Ministers’ have now agreed the potato and horticulture levy rates for this year (see detail below) to cover the costs of winding down the horticulture and potato levy-funded activity.

AHDB expects that this will be the final year for these two statutory levies, and we understand that government will launch an industry consultation later this year (2021) on proposed changes to the legislation that governs AHDB and on future options.

Potato levy rate and wind down costs

  • Following the ballot of potato levy payers earlier this year (2021), the AHDB Board has taken the decision to completely wind-down statutory levy-funded potato operations.

  • The potato grower and buyer levy rates for 2021 are unchanged at £42.62 per hectare for growers and £0.1858 per tonne for buyers.

  • Levy funds collected in 2021, together with sector reserves, will be used to cover the costs of winding-down all levy-payer activity in the potato sector:

    • to see out existing contractual liabilities including research programmes, so the value of levy already invested is not lost (£4 million)

    • to see out existing contractual liabilities for potato storage programmes, so the value of levy already invested is not lost (£0.6 million)

    • to cover the costs of lease commitments and staff redundancies, excluding Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility (£1.7 million)

    • to cover the costs and asset write-downs of closing Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility, including staff redundancies and after site sale proceeds (£1.1 million)

  • For AHDB Potatoes it will cost in total around £7.4 million to meet all the liabilities through the planned transition of activities and the wind-down process. AHDB Potato reserves at 31 March 2021 were £1.2 million (subject to audit).  The 2021/22 levy rate is expected to raise £5.6 million. AHDB and Defra Ministers do not want to continue the current levy in 2022/23 just to cover wind-down costs, therefore Defra has agreed, exceptionally, to underwrite up to £0.6 million to cover the potential shortfall.

  • The AHDB has now started the decommissioning that will bring about the closure of the Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility in December 2021, leading to the sale of the site, on the open market, with proceeds returned to levy funds.

  • For information on the Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility sale, please see the marketing page

  • Any excess funds at the end of the wind-down process will be held for a period of up to 6-years to fund any residual potato liabilities which may arise. After this period the utilisation of any funds remaining would be discussed with the industry and government.

  • AHDB will remain legally required to pursue all overdue levy payments.

Horticulture levy rate and wind down costs

  • Following the ballot of horticulture levy payers earlier this year (2021), the AHDB Board has taken the decision to completely wind-down our statutory levy-funded horticulture operations.

  • The levy for 2021 has been calculated on a reduced levy rate of 0.27% on your adjusted sales figure (down from 0.45% in 2020). 

  • The levy funds collected in this year (2021), together with sector reserves, will be used to cover the costs of winding-down all levy-payer activity in the horticulture sector:

    • to see out existing contractual liabilities including research programmes, so the value of levy already invested is not lost (£7.4 million)

    • to cover the costs of lease commitments and staff redundancies(£1.4 million)

    • at Defra’s request to fund a transitional EAMU/emergency authorisation service in 2022/23, so benefits are not lost for the industry and to enable time for the service to potentially be transferred to a third party (£1.8 million). Further details on the EAMU and Emergency Use service.

  • For AHDB Horticulture it will cost in total around £10.6 million to meet all the liabilities through the planned transition of activities and the wind-down process.

  • AHDB Horticulture reserves at 31 March 2021 were £6.05 million (subject to audit). The reduced 2021/22 levy rate is expected to raise £4.55 million.

  • Any excess funds at the end of the wind-down process, will be held for a period of up to 6-years to fund any residual horticulture liabilities which may arise. After this period the utilisation of any funds remaining would be discussed with the industry and government.

  • AHDB will remain legally required to pursue all overdue levy payments.

To Support EAMU and Emergency Use applications for specialist horticultural crops in the UK, the Plant Protection Product (PPP) Regulatory Team within AHDB conduct the following activity:

  • Seek views from across the horticultural industry on existing or emerging crop protection issues.
  • Monitor approval of PPP active substances in both GB and the EU to forecast withdrawals or changes that might affect the ability of horticultural growers to protect their crops.
  • Liaise with stakeholders, including the authorisation holders (owners/manufacturers) of PPPs to seek support for EAMU and emergency uses of PPPs for horticultural crops.
  • Interpret the results of AHDB efficacy trials research conducted through sector-specific and wider research programme budgets to bring new PPP solutions to horticultural growers.
  • Consider additional regulatory information, data and risk assessments needed to authorise EAMUs for horticultural crops.
  • Carry out essential stewardship activity and data gathering with the industry to support emergency authorisations of PPPs where these are required.
  • Commission and manage residues data generation needed to support EAMUs (and emergency authorisations).
  • Determine need for future efficacy research to ensure horticultural crop protection keeps pace with technological, regulatory and policy changes.
  • Communicate regularly with agronomists, growers, grower groups and other food chain infrastructure on progress with EAMU/emergency.

Should you require any more information about how this service is provided, please feel free to contact the team at EAMU@ahdb.org.uk.

Governance

  • The wind down programme has been put together following detailed advice from AHDB’s Potato and Horticulture Sector Boards.

  • The potato sector board has oversight of the potato activity wind-down process. Alison Levett remains as interim chair and attends the main AHDB board as an observer. This arrangement will be reviewed in March 2022, when the current levy period ends.

  • The horticulture sector board has oversight of the horticulture activity wind-down process. Peter Judge is the interim chair and attends the main AHDB board as an observer. This arrangement will be reviewed in March 2022, when the current levy period ends.

  • Recognising the need to provide oversight of the remaining horticulture research projects (51 in total currently which will reduce to 28 running in 2022/23, 11 in 2023/24 and 3 in 2024/25), the most efficient way for us to achieve this will be agreed with the panels and sector board over the coming weeks.

Levy payer communications and future access to research reports and fact sheets

AHDB Potato and Horticulture work is in the process of being archived and will be made accessible online to levy payers by March 2022 to ensure the industry can continue to benefit longer term from its investment.

Results from Horticulture and Potatoes work concluding in 21/22 or later will be made available on the AHDB website. This will be supported with a limited number of events which are part of a contractual commitment. All other events for levy payers stopped from the beginning of July.

Communications to levy payers from July onwards are limited to in-season EAMU notifications, potato storage results and essential updates such as emergency pest and disease communications.

Transition programme

AHDB is in ongoing discussions with Defra, the Devolved Administrations, industry representatives and levy payers about the possible transition of services to other providers. 

Initial expressions of interest from companies, organisations or industry groups in taking on existing work or packages of stopped work should be registered via email to Rob Clayton. Email: rob.clayton@ahdb.org.uk

For more information, see AHDB’s previous statement of 14 May

Contracts

The following research and knowledge exchange projects will be funded until the end of the contract.

Click on the links below for more information:

Horticulture

  • Data Collection and Applications to support EAMUs
  • Downy mildew control strategies
  • Vegetable propagation peat reduction grower demonstration trials
  • SCEPTREplus - Research for sustainable plant protection products for use in horticulture
  • Understanding disease development of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus  (ToBRFV)
  • Development and implementation of season long control strategies for Drosophila suzukii in soft and tree fruit
  • Towards a better understanding of the biology and genetics of Phytophthora rubi and P. fragaria which causes devastating root rot disease in raspberries and strawberries
  • Integrated forecasting for diseases affecting multiple hosts exemplified by vegetable brassicas and oilseed rape
  • Non-chemical growth control of protected pot and bedding plants
  • The role of endophytes in affecting symptom development of European apple canker caused by Neonectria ditissima
  • Improved understanding and control of baterial blotch and green mould in mushroom production (Mushroom Disease)
  • SPECTRA: Whole plant spectral response models: Optimised greenhouse light environments, modelling whole plant reponses to spectral quality
  • Bioinspired vision systems for automated harvesting
  • Soil Biology & Soil Health Partnership
  • Developing diagnostic methodologies for pathogen detection in seed, and determining the importance of seed-borne inoculum in transmission of aerial oomycetes
  • Tomato: An investigation into poor pollination performance by the native bumblebee, Bombus terrestris audax
  • Onions: Investigation into the control of white rot in bulb and salad onion crops
  • Selection and improvement of insect pathogenic fungi for the control of multi-resistant aphids
  • Pest Bulletin
  • Soft Fruit Strategic Farm (WET Centre)
  • Plum Demonstration and Knowledge Exchange Orchard
  • HNS strategic centre
  • SmartHort labour efficiency modules
  • Carbon audits
  • Application and Management of Biopesticides for Efficacy and Reliability (AMBER)
  • Strategic Centre for Herbs & Leafy Salads
  • Reducing peat in transplanted leafy veg crops
  • Monitoring and Managing Insecticide Resistance in UK Pests
  • Asparagus: Sustainable soil management for stand longevity and yield optimisation in asparagus 
  • Using LAMP for non-invasive monitoring systems for Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV)
  • Horticulture Strategic Centres for Field Vegetables (Innovation Hub)
  • Herbs: determining the basis of variation in flavour
  • Improved management of bacterial diseases of horticultural crops
  • Developing nutrient management guidance in Protected Ornamentals, Bulbs and Outdoor Flowers
  • Peas: Surveillance virus diseases in UK pea crops
  • Carrots: Improved management of virus diseases
  • Role of auxin in Phytophthora root rot disease development in soft fruit
  • Diagnostic tests to assess Fusarium disease risk, select rotation crops and monitor microbial communities
  • Developing nutrient management guidance for Hardy Nursery Stock
  • Developing nutrient management guidance in Rhubarb crops
  • Improving integrated pest management in strawberry pests
  • The Pot and Bedding Plant Centre
  • Integrated decision support tools for management of downy mildew in onions
  • Understanding populations of the lettuce downy mildew pathogen Bremia lactucae to inform integrated disease management
  • Development of an integrated strategy for Bean Seed Fly control
  • Membership of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club (EMSBC)
  • Growing media usage monitoring
  • Insecticide Resistance Management - new strategies
  • Lettuce: host resistance to fusarium wilt
  • CTP PhD Studentship Scheme
  • The National Cut Flower Centre Trials Programme
  • UK Raspberry Breeding Consortium (UKRBC)
  • GrowSave - an energy efficiency platform
  • Utilisation of single and multiple species cover crops for the suppression of soil borne nematodes of Narcissus
  • Soft Fruit CTP PhD Studentship Scheme funding, although projects won’t be completed until October 2025 
  • All hard copy factsheets, publications and grower events which are not part of a contractual commitment

Potatoes

  • Investigation of the potential for precision soil and crop growth mapping to improve tuber size distribution at harvest.
  • CIPC mechanisms
  • Soil Biology & Soil Health
  • Blight population monitoring for management recommendations
  • Mineral oils for control of aphid-borne virus transmission
  • IPM: response to loss of actives for pest management
  • Integrated potato agronomy and storage
  • Metabolic markers to mechanism of growth suppression - understanding the molecular physiology of sprouting in potato
  • Low temperature storage of potato varieties
  • Integrated alternative sprout suppressants: Fresh
  • Integrated alternative sprout suppressants: Processing
  • Maleic Hydrazide Review
  • CIPC Contamination
  • Potato storage using spearmint oil
  • Growsave
  • Strategic Potato Farms
  • Aphid monitoring
  • Blight Spy
  • PhD Conference for Crops
  • Blight IPM - Fungicide Resistance Management
  • Potato variety database
  • Monitoring and managing insecticide resistance
  • Applications of machine learning to precision potato blackleg prediction
  • Cross sector - Insecticide resistance management
  • Metabolic markers to mechanism of growth suppression: understanding the molecular physiology of sprouting in potato

  • Education partnership with the British Nutrition Foundation
  • Safe Haven Assurance Scheme
  • Yield Enhancement Network
  • AgriLeader work
  • Farmbench data validation and group work
  • Nuffield sponsorship
  • On-farm carbon audits
  • All hard copy factsheets, publications and grower events which are not part of a contractual commitment
  • Consumer marketing campaigns
  • Grow Your Own Potatoes
  • Potato Europe trade show
  • Fruit Logistica trade show
  • Export missions and market access work
  • Area, yield and production estimates
  • Potatoes planting, lifting and crop condition survey
  • Global data provision
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