Ministers to decide on the future of the potato levy

A ballot to decide the future of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) potato levy has concluded. The voting report has been passed to ministers, who will decide what happens next.

The call for a ballot on the continuation of a statutory levy in the potato sector came late last year and a yes/no vote started in mid-February, on the basis of one levy payer, one vote.

An independent company, UK Engage, administered the vote process.

The overall voter turnout was 64% with 1,196 eligible votes cast. The No vote against the continuation of a levy was 66.4% versus a Yes vote of 33.6%.

Voting analysis by UK Engage according to value of levy paid, showed a similar picture of 63.2% No votes, versus 36.8% Yes votes.

Splitting the result into the two separate potato levies – the potato buyer levy and the potato grower levy – buyers voted 82.1% No and 17.9% Yes.

The growers voted 64.3% No and 35.7% Yes.

Future of the levy

AHDB chair Nicholas Saphir said:

I’m deeply disappointed. The voting information reported by UK Engage shows that a clear majority of the potato industry feels they are not getting enough value from the current levy set-up.

“It is now down to the ministers to weigh up all the various factors about the UK potato industry and make a decision on the future role of a statutory potato levy.”

Defra Minister Victoria Prentis MP said: “We will now take these results and scrutinise them closely before making a decision on the future of the potato levy.

A joint decision with Scottish and Welsh ministers will be made after the Scottish and Welsh government elections.

“In the meantime the AHDB will continue to collect levy returns from the industry for the 2021/2022 year.”