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By 25th November 2021No Comments

25th November 2021


Defra consultation on the future of AHDB

Defra has issued a further consultation covering several important issues for the horticultural sector. It is critical Defra gets a complete industry picture, so the purpose of this note is to encourage you to complete the online survey. There are 13 questions to complete the section on horticulture and 9 of these are your ‘name and address’ type questions.

The consultation opened on 17th November and closes on 10th Jan 2022.


What are you being asked?

There are three areas of critical interest:

  1. Should the AHDB Order be amended to remove the statutory levy in the horticulture sector in Great Britain?

The results of the recent ballot of horticulture levy payers showed a significant majority are no longer satisfied that the AHDB’s services are providing value for money and have signalled overall they do not want the levy to continue. 61% of levy payers that voted in the horticulture sector ballot voted “no” to the continuation of the statutory levy in their respective sectors.

To respect the overall outcome of the recent ballots Defra is proposing to amend the AHDB Order to remove the duty on the AHDB to impose a statutory levy on the horticulture sector. This will end the statutory levies in their current form from the beginning of next financial year.

In the accompanying text Defra says…

It is open to exploring industry led proposals from any parts of the horticulture sector, or from any other agricultural industries, who may see value in working with the AHDB through a statutory levy mechanism in the future.

Furthermore, any group of growers can agree to pay a voluntary levy to fund research or other activities at any time. This could be done by the industry working with the AHDB or by working with other organisations or by establishing an alternative governance structure for organising, collecting, and delivering a voluntary levy programme.

No to public funding for R&D

Defra is making it clear that ….

Public sector funding will not pay for research or other actions that were, or could reasonably be expected to be, funded through levy investment.

And goes on to suggest ….

Growers may need to coalesce to provide leadership and formulate new industry led funding models that are better suited to their needs and will enable cross industry collaboration for the delivery of priority research, development, and other activities to support their businesses in future.


  1. Do you want the AHDB’s application service for emergency authorisations and extension of authorisation for minor use of pesticides for the horticulture sector in Great Britain to continue (EA/EAMU application service)?

About 70% of EAs and EAMUs are secured by the AHDB. Annually they submit between 80 and 100 applications to the HSE (CRD) for EAs and EAMUs and Defra expect this number to rise in the next few years, due to the decline in the availability of active substances.

In the short term during 2021/22 and 2022/23 some limited specific AHDB activities will continue in the horticulture on a transitional basis. AHDB will continue to deliver applications for Emergency Authorisations (EAs) and Extensions of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMUs) of pesticides in the horticulture sector in Great Britain (funded through reserves).


  1. If you want the AHDB’s application service for emergency authorisations and extension of authorisation for minor use of pesticides for the horticulture sector in Great Britain to continue do you have views and suggestions on how it should be funded?

Providing continuity for the AHDB’s EA/EAMU application service is for seen by many as very important to their business. So, Defra is exploring options for a longer-term funding solution for a continued AHDB EA/EAMU application service from 2023/24 and are interested in industry views on this point.

The remainder of the consultation

The remaining section of the consultation covers

  • A regular vote for levy payers
  • Extending the scope of the AHDB Order
  • Increasing the headroom for levy rates in the English sheep sector; and
  • Future reforms to the AHDB Order


Taking part in the consultation

Here is the link to the Defra consultation and the closing date is 10th January 2022.


Jack Ward

CEO, British Growers

November 2021.