UK: Farm levy body AHDB to axe up to 140 jobs as it winds down its potato and horticulture operations

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) plans to axe up to 140 jobs as it winds down its potato and horticulture operations.

The farm levy body organization has come under fire from potato, fruit, vegetable and flower growers in the past year, leading to two ballots on the future of its potato and horticulture operations. Both ballots resulted in growers voting to abolish paying a statutory levy – 66.4% of potato businesses voted to stop their levy, while 61% of horticulture business owners voted to end theirs too.

AHDB has now announced plans to “wind down significant activities” on behalf of the potato and horticulture sectors and said that although it was waiting for an official decision on the outcome of the ballots from government ministers, it had listened to levy-payers. The winding down includes a business case, which requires authorization from government ministers, to make up to 140 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs redundant.

AHDB said the winding down of activities includes stopping any work which could be carried out by grower associations, individual growers or the supply chain in future. This includes export market access and promotional international trade event work, consumer marketing campaigns, and market pricing and insight information.

Only research work and limited emergency work on pests and diseases will continue at AHDB for the horticulture and potato sectors.
The levy body said it will continue to deliver limited emergency work on pests and diseases, including Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMU) applications, and some contracted research work.

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