AHDB’s four Sector Councils publish levy increase proposals

AHDB’s four Sector Councils publish levy increase proposals

Proposals for increasing the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB’s) levy rates from the start of the 2024/25 financial year have been published by the Sector Councils representing Beef and Lamb, Cereals and Oilseeds, Dairy and Pork.

Levy payers are being given the opportunity to ask questions about the proposals over the coming weeks, including during AHDB’s Funding Your Future livestream event on Thursday, 9 November 2023.

The purpose of increasing rates is to meet the request from levy payers to deliver more key services, including marketing and exports for the Beef and Lamb, Dairy and Pork sectors and more independent research for Cereals and Oilseeds. This comes at a time when AHDB’s spending power has been greatly reduced by rising costs, which have been particularly affected by the increase in inflation.

Sector Councils will make a final recommendation to the AHDB Board, which will put the proposals to Government Ministers and Devolved Administrations later this year. The proposed levy rates are as follows:

Beef and Lamb (levy rate last set in 2011)

Cattle (excluding Calves)    
Producer – £4.05 to £5.06/head of cattle
Slaughterer/Exporter – £1.35 to £1.69/head

Producer – £0.08 to £0.10/head of cattle 
Slaughterer/Exporter – £0.08 to £0.10/head

Producer – £0.60 to £0.75/head of sheep
Slaughterer/Exporter – £0.20 to £0.25/head of sheep

Cereals and Oilseeds (levy rate last set in 2011)

Cereal grower – 46.00p/tonne to 58p/t 
Cereal buyer – 3.80p/t to 4.80p/t
Cereal processor (human/industrial) – 9.50p/t to 12p/t
Cereal processor (feed) – 4.60p/t to 5.80p/t
Oilseeds – 75 p/t to 94 p/t

Dairy (set more than 20 years ago)

Dairy farmer – 0.06p/litre to 0.08p/l

Pork (levy rate last set in 1996)

Pig producer – £0.85 to £1.02
Pig processor – £0.20 to £0.24

Commenting on the timing of the proposals, AHDB Chair Nicholas Saphir said: “The message from levy payers through Shape the Future was clear, that key services provided by AHDB, such as independent research, the Strategic Farm networks, activity to identify new export markets as well as domestic marketing, are seen as vital to levy payers.

“This is an unprecedented time for our industry, with inflation alone eroding the value of the levy by around 40%. There is never a perfect time for such proposals, however it must be noted that it has been at least 12 years since a levy rate was last increased.

“The Sector Councils are right to explore the option of increasing the current rates but by taking a proportionate approach that takes into account the impact of the current economic climate on farmers, producers and processors. Therefore, I do recommend that you fully support the proposed increases.”

AHDB Beef and Lamb Sector Council Chair, Colin Bateman, said: “Levy payers who took part in last year’s Shape the Future vote asked us to do more and that is what our focus is on.

“We are seeking access to grow export markets, investigating increasing the frequency of our marketing campaigns to maintain the momentum on shifting consumers’ attitudes to red meat and doubling our spend on education work championing Beef and Lamb.

“If a levy increase is supported, we can continue to address the issues that levy payers raise, and focus on bringing more value to those priority areas.”

AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Sector Council Chair, Tom Clarke, said: “The Sector Council believes you need AHDB to do more and do it better. That means investing more.

“We need new solutions and more relevant advice to help farmers do better in changing times. That’s why we will invest at least £1m more per year into research, which will be directed by levy payers themselves.

“AHDB needs to step up to deliver more for farming but without greater levy payer investment we will have to cut back even existing services.”

AHDB Dairy Sector Council Chair, Lyndon Edwards, said: “Levy payers have asked us for more marketing campaigns, more work on promoting the reputation of the industry and to grow dairy exports. We will need additional levy funding to deliver this.

“An average British dairy farm producing 1.65m litres per annum would pay an additional £330 each year as a result of this proposed increase of 0.02ppl.”

AHDB Pork Sector Council Chair, Mike Sheldon, said: “A levy increase of 21p per pig will allow AHDB to keep delivering the vital support this sector needs, whether through promoting the high integrity of British pork, pursuing export sales to underpin prices in the UK or by pushing back on mistruths around nutrition and production by balancing out the debate.

“The Pork levy rate is the same today as it was over 20 years ago, and its spending power has dramatically reduced since then. We need to act together to face huge challenges and optimise the future of the sector.”

Levy payers can find out more about the details of the proposals by visiting www.ahdb.org.uk.

Sector Councils will be available to answer relevant questions via face-to-face meetings, email (info@ahdb.org.uk), social media and the Funding Your Future livestream event throughout the autumn.

Further details of Funding Your Future, along a full schedule of activity, will be announced in October.

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