The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) needs to demonstrate its value to the whole of the UK's agriculture industry, the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has warned.

It comes as the Government has announced it will open a consultation to review the body's operation and performance.

Calls for a review

TFA chief executive, George Dunn said that the members of the TFA had been calling for a review of AHDB for some time, and welcomed the review committee.

AHDB derives the bulk of its income from a statutory levy generated from the farming community, which delivers around £60 million per annum to AHDB which it spends across its six, sector boards.

“£60 million a year is a sizeable budget in comparison to other organisations within the sector," said Dunn.

"This is money that is taken on a mandatory basis from the profits of hard-working farmers who need to be assured that it is being well spent, and invested to deliver value for the industry into the long term."

'Key criteria'

According to the chief executive, the review must focus on the "value that the AHDB delivers to the industry as a whole".

"The post-Brexit era will present a number of new opportunities and challenges to the UK agricultural industry.

"Therefore, it is vital that every penny of the budget at the disposal of AHDB is used to "drive the sustainability, resilience and profitability of UK agriculture and horticulture,” says Dunn.

Improving accountability

The TFA is asking the AHDB to re-evaluate and improve accountability across the board.

According to Dunne, this can be achieved by holding more open meetings of its full and sector boards and providing greater transparency on board appointments.

Furthermore, making the board open to a regular poll of levy payers will aid in determining the direction of the board into the future - whether it should continue in its current form, become voluntary or cease to exist altogether.

“To be clear, the TFA is not seeking the abolition of AHDB but we do need it to demonstrate its value by setting out exactly what it will deliver in return for the resources the industry makes available to it,” noted Dunn.

Executive members of the board will meet this week in order to discuss the review.