Independent evidence, insight and analysis – AHDB working for levy payers at Westminster

Providing independent evidence-based information is one of the cornerstones of AHDB’s work, bringing together data, insight and analysis to help farmers, growers and supply chains make better business decisions.

Monday 28 February 2022

Providing independent evidence-based information is one of the cornerstones of AHDB’s work, bringing together data, insight and analysis to help farmers, growers and supply chains make better business decisions.

Its role, however, goes far beyond that, often playing a key part in helping inform parliamentarians examining issues affecting our sectors. Our analysis and insight help ensure those at the top of UK politics are properly informed and can make decisions based on hard facts, rather than hearsay – the real implications for farmers, growers and supply chains.

Last week I was delighted to be invited to appear as an expert witness as part of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee inquiry into the UK Free Trade Agreement with Australia.

The inquiry is looking into the impact the agreement will have on farmers, food and drink retailers and food and drink producers, as well as alignment with the UK’s commitment to high animal welfare, and implications for future trade deals.

I, and colleagues in AHDB’s Market Intelligence and Export teams, have participated in many of these sessions for both this committee and others, in the House of Commons, House of Lords and Scottish Government. Additionally, we regularly respond to Government departmental consultations and have covered everything from the potential implications for global trade after leaving the EU, to the regulation of genetic technologies. The reports produced by Select Committees and the recommendations they make are subsequently considered by the Government.

While we are not permitted to lobby, AHDB plays a unique role in providing independent evidence, which often dovetails with opinions put forward by industry membership organisations and stakeholders, presenting a ‘joined-up’ approach on behalf of levy payers.

Last week’s session provided a high-profile platform for us to outline the implications of the Australia FTA. Specifically, I was able to outline the positive story of UK livestock production and how it can shine on the global stage. The session also covered off the potential wider longer-term benefits of the deal for UK farmers in terms of marking another step towards accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Importantly, the session also provided a platform to stress the importance of involving industry stakeholders at the earliest possible stage in discussions and negotiations on future FTAs with other countries. Essentially, the earlier the engagement with those in the industry, the better.

I, and other colleagues, have participated in a number of these sessions, enabling us to highlight the fantastic job that levy payers do, our high production standards and the provenance of UK produce. I look forward to taking part in future sessions with the EFRA and other parliamentary committees and departments to continue flying the flag for UK produce, highlighting where opportunities can be maximised and threats mitigated.

Watch the EFRA Committee evidence session

Read our Horizon report on the impact of a UK-Australia free trade agreement on UK agriculture

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Sarah Baker

Strategic Insight Manager

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