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Potato growers vote to abolish statutory levy

The majority of potato growing and buying businesses have voted against the continuation of a levy for their sector.
The majority of potato growing and buying businesses have voted against the continuation of a levy for their sector.

Potato growers have voted to abolish the statutory levy for their sector collected via the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The vote, which was triggered by a petition signed by 176 levy-paying potato growing or buying businesses, asked whether or not a statutory levy should continue for the sector.

AHDB said 64% of eligible businesses voted in the ballot – this equates to 1,196 votes – and 66.4% voted against the continuation of a levy.

It said analysis by UK Engage, which carried out the ballot on behalf of AHDB, found the result according to value of levy paid was similar with 63.2% voting to abolish the levy and 36.8% voting to keep it.

Potato buying businesses were more in favour of getting rid of the levy with 82.1% voting to abolish it, compared with 64.3% of growers who cast a vote.

More than 80% of potato-buying businesses voted against keeping the levy.

AHDB chairman, Nicholas Saphir, said he was “deeply disappointed” with the result.

“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,” added Mr Saphir.

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

UK Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, 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 the Scottish and Welsh Ministers will be made after the Scottish and Welsh Government elections.”

She added: “In the meantime, AHDB will continue to collect levy returns from the industry from the 2021/22 year.”

The potato levy vote follows a similar vote for the horticulture sector’s statutory levy, which resulted in 61% of fruit, vegetable and flower growers voting to abolish their levy.

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