The levy, board vacancies, exports and Brexit. Update from the Horticulture Board

Thursday, 2 May 2019

An update from Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, AHDB Horticulture

Chair's letter

I’ve written an open letter to growers that went out with the annual levy collection form. The purpose is threefold – to introduce myself formally, highlight what has been achieved, and to acknowledge the strength of feeling in the sector about AHDB currently. Thank you to the growers who have already been in touch with me.

Ideas on the levy

I'm in the process of setting up a working group to review the AHDB Horticulture levy and come up with options for Ministers to consider, to tie in with their deliberations over the recent Request for Views on AHDB. I intend to have growers representing the full range of small to large businesses, and some additional invited representatives (Defra and NFU for example, and an independent perspective). Principally, I want the group to be made up of the growers who pay the bill, from within and outside the horticulture board. More to follow once we're up and running. 

Fruit Logistica

AHDB has been exhibiting at Fruit Logistica for several years, providing a space for growers to network with their domestic and overseas customers and showcase British produce. However, in reviewing our activity to ensure that we are offering the best return on growers’ levy the board has decided not to return to Fruit Logistica next year. We have previously co-funded the stand with our colleagues in AHDB Potatoes. They will be contacting seed exporters to discuss how they would like to proceed with the event in future. For those growers who have exhibited with AHDB in the past, I hope the decision will not come as too much of a disappointment to you. I would be happy to discuss the decision with you further. 

Board Vacancies

There are two vacancies for AHDB horticulture sector board members. Interim arrangements have been agreed to cover any gaps, which include Martin Emmett continuing to represent ornamental production on the board, and chairing the hardy nursery stock panel. A member of the protected ornamentals, bulb and flower panel will attend the board as a substitute at the July meeting. The vacancies will be advertised on the AHDB website, or you can contact me directly should you be interested in applying. 


It remains possible that the UK might leave the EU with no deal. The UK’s no-deal tariff schedule was published on 13 March. Some livestock products will be protected, but fresh produce will not. Horticultural content on AHDB’s Brexit web pages has been improved to make it more specific, relevant and user friendly. Grower case studies have been included, as well as some scenario modelling on some horticultural crops. 


Following the success of the conference (catch-up online if you missed it) we have now closed applications for three new SmartHort Strategic Centres (horticulture businesses with a focus on labour efficiency). We’ve had a lot of interest across all sectors of horticulture. Our SmartHort Automation Challenge has also been popular – growers were invited to pitch for an engineering solution to any horticultural problem. The winner will be the one whose proposal is judged to offer the greatest potential benefit to British horticulture, and will be worked on by top engineers at WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group). To be announced soon!

Our next horticulture board meeting is on 10 July where the board will be agreeing Horticulture’s future strategy, and further progressing its proposals for change.


Hayley Campbell-Gibbons

AHDB Board Member, Horticulture Chair