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UK growers criticize comments over horticulture and potato levy

UK growers, who led a campaign to abolish a statutory levy on horticulture and potato production, have criticized comments that suggest the industry supports it. Spalding flower grower Simon Redden, Quadring Eaudyke potato and vegetable grower John Bratley and Gosberton vegetable farmer Peter Thorold have become known as the AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) petitioners. They have expressed concern and disappointment at recent comments by NFU representatives and the Growers Better Levy Group.

Bratley said: “In two decisive votes, two-thirds of growers across the horticulture and potato sectors unambiguously rejected the idea of a statutory levy. However, over the last three weeks we have seen comments which appear to be trying to re-write this result and replace one statutory levy with another.”

He added: “The vast majority of growers rejected the idea of a statutory levy. After all, the ballot was on the continuation of a compulsory levy, not the structure of the AHDB. Almost 61 per cent of horticulture growers and more than 66 per cent of potato growers rejected a compulsory levy.”

Growers’ Better Levy Group statement
The Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG), which represents 36 horticultural businesses, issued a statement which said: "The continuation of a small statutory levy is necessary to fund critical work."

Thorold said about this statement: “The GBLG represents just three per cent of those businesses which were eligible to vote on the continuation of a statutory levy. They may well wish to jointly establish and fund their own non-statutory body for their own R&D. However, they must not be allowed to have their research needs subsidised by an industry wide statutory levy which growers have overwhelmingly rejected. In funding their own R&D they will be able to claim substantial tax relief which is not available under a statutory scheme... that in itself makes a bureaucratic statutory scheme a bad deal.”


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