Since the creation of AHDB Horticulture in 2008, it has handled the industry’s crop protection emergency use applications. As a result of the ballot in 2021, the commitment from AHDB Horticulture to support the EAMU work will end in March 2023. Crop protection in the fruit and veg sector remains a major challenge and it is imperative the industry has access to the widest possible selection of products together with a process and the resources to make EAMU applications and carry out the wider support work.
The outcome of the ballot was clear; the majority of growers voted to end the compulsory levy. Consequently, the sector needs to move to a voluntary funding system to enable it to continue the EAMU work. And now we urgently need to get a new system in place prior to March 2023.
Working through British Growers and the network of crop associations, a small steering group has been set up under the Chairmanship of John Chinn to explore how best to continue the EAMU function based on a voluntary subscription approach (details of the steering group are listed at the bottom).
The proposition from the steering group is to set up a new company to raise the necessary funds to carry out future EAMU work. This will give the industry control over the direction and costs of the organisation. These were two main issues where growers expressed their concerns during the ballot.
The new company will operate on a ‘not for profit’ basis and will ideally be owned by a collective of crop associations similar to the British Growers ownership model. The intention is to manage the EAMUs and for British Growers to provide the administrative back up, including invoicing growers for their voluntary subscriptions through the individual crop associations invoicing process (in many cases crop association membership covers most of the production in the UK). The Group will also look to set up an invoicing process for those not in crop association membership. The intention is to keep the new organisation as lean as possible but at the same time fit for purpose.
The steering group is going through the necessary processes to set up the new company. It is also looking to come to a view on the cost of running the operation and how this can be equitably shared across a diverse network of growers producing different crops with differing crop protection needs. The intention is to have the new company together with an indication of the operating costs in place by November 2022.
Several growers have suggested the cost of the EAMU work should be borne by Government. This conversation has been had at Ministerial level and the response has been unequivocal – this is an industry, not a taxpayer, responsibility.
The steering group is meeting on a regular basis as it works towards the November deadline of setting up the new company and providing a clearer picture on costs. We will continue to keep you in the picture as things develop. In the meantime, if there are any issues, please feel free to email me at email@example.com so I can relay these to the steering group.