Less than half (42%) of levy payers responded to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board's (AHDB's) Shape the Future consultation.

The consultation sought views from levy payers regarding the work of the AHDB going forward.

Levy payers were asked if they agreed with the proposed priorities for each sector by ranking them in terms of importance from one to five, where one is low and five is high. They were then asked to rank the importance of the work AHDB should do to support those areas.

Of the 4,478 levy payers who took part, the top-voted priorities for the AHDB going forward were found to be:

  • Protecting the reputation of the beef, lamb, dairy and pork sectors, and promoting benefits to consumers (which received an average score of 4.6 from beef and lamb producers, 4.5 from the dairy sector and 4.4 from pork levy payers);
  • Supporting farmers to remain viable despite changes to farm support, profitability and productivity challenges in the cereals and oilseeds sector (with an average score of 4.4); and
  • Selling every part of the pig for the best financial return at home in the UK or overseas in the pork sector (with an average score of 4.4).

Regarding what the AHDB should specifically do to support these priorities, the voters want it to protect and enhance the reputation of the industry in the beef, lamb and dairy sectors; maintain its recommended-list information for the cereals and oilseeds sector; and use its pork consumer marketing campaigns to help sell every part of the pig.

The concluded consultation also resulted in the ratification of all sector council members. Councils will meet this coming June, and then in July, to consider the feedback received from levy payers and to build it into their sector plans.

AHDB’s divisional director of engagement, Will Jackson, said the board is pleased to have sector councils in place who will decide on the future priorities for each sector for the next five years.

"They will now spend time to analyse and discuss this data in order to identify the priorities for each sector, which will be confirmed with levy payers in October," he said.

"The 15 minutes spent voting on the priorities for each sector will make a real difference about how levy funds are invested."

"I would like to thank all of the levy payers who voted, the many industry influencers and organisations who have supported Shape the Future and of course the whole AHDB team who have put their heart and soul into making this exercise work," added AHDB chief executive Tim Rycroft.

“Consulting levy payers and putting their voice at the heart of what we do, was one of the promises about changing AHDB that we made a year ago.

“I look forward to our sector councils presenting their final decisions on the work we will undertake and the priorities for the four sectors later in the year.”