AHDB confirms ballot on the future of the potato levy

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has formally announced that a ballot on the continuation of the statutory potato levy will go ahead in 2021.

The ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on the future of AHDB Potatoes and the work it delivers on behalf of GB potato growers and buyers will take place from mid-February 2021 for four weeks.

The confirmation comes after 8.5% of potato levy payers, or 176 potato growing or buying businesses, submitted valid requests for a ballot.

Under statute, 5% of levy payers are needed to request a ballot for it to proceed.

The voting period will open in mid-February after a separate ballot on the statutory levy for horticulture has closed, to avoid confusion.

Who is entitled to vote?

Each potato growing or buying business that has paid levy in the 12 months up to the ballot closing is entitled to one vote.

AHDB is encouraging all potato-levy payers to make their vote count and is holding a series of virtual “town hall” meetings in January and February, 2021, to help them make an informed decision, based on AHDB’s delivery record and its new strategy for the potato sector.

AHDB chair Nicholas Saphir said:

We are in no way underestimating the huge variation in sentiment towards AHDB – but, we also want our levy payers to make an informed decision about our continued existence and what they would lose if the levy was stopped.

“We would urge all potato growing and buying businesses to talk to us about our work and future plans through the town hall meetings or one-to-one with their regional knowledge exchange manager.”

The ballot will be run by an independent company, called UK Engage. Once complete, the results of the ballot will be submitted to the farming ministers in England, Wales and Scotland, who will decide on the future of the statutory potato levy.