UK – The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) plans to approach ministers with a proposal to use leftover potato tax revenues for seven sector initiatives through a grant to GB Potatoes.

This decision follows the cessation of levy-payer operations in the sector and has the support of major potato membership groups. All AHDB grants require ministerial approval.

The seven proposed projects include the Potato Blight Project, Aphid Monitoring Project, Management Tools to Tackle Viruses Project, Reputational Management Project, Bridging Information Gap Project, CIPC Residue Monitoring Project, and Updating Nutrient Management (RB209) Project.

These initiatives aim to address critical challenges in the potato industry, such as combating potato blight, monitoring aphids, and improving nutrient management.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, the British Potato Trade Association, the Fresh Potato Supplier Association, and the Potato Processors’ Association have all endorsed the proposal in writing.

Following the sale of the AHDB Potatoes’ Sutton Bridge Experimental Unit, AHDB holds approximately GBP 1.8 million (USD 2.24 million) in potato reserves, with £400,000 allocated for potential residual liabilities.

The grant is expected to taper over three to five years, decreasing annually as GB Potatoes’ voluntary industry funding grows. If approved, the grant would provide GBP 1.372 million (USD 1.7 million) over the first three years.

The grant for the fourth and fifth years could total GBP 426,200 (USD 529, 681), but this depends on a successful review and the availability of sufficient potato funds from the reserved liabilities.

The next step is for AHDB to submit a grant proposal and board recommendation to ministers for their review.

“In reaching its recommendation to the minister, the board carefully considered various options for potato sector funds. The GB Potatoes proposals have wide written support from all major industry membership trade organizations and meet AHDB Board’s legal obligation to use levy funds to benefit the sector,” said Graham Wilkinson, AHDB Chief Executive.

“Grant funding would guarantee support in critical industry areas over the next few years, offering the industry the best chance to develop a self-sustaining voluntary funding model.”

Scott Walker, GB Potatoes Chief Executive, noted the recent decline in seed and ware potato production due to rising costs and risks faced by growers.

He emphasized that GB Potatoes aims to promote cooperation across the potato supply chain and confront industry challenges to build resilience.

Walker stated, “To provide oversight on project implementation, monitoring, and evaluation, we will establish an industry advisory committee comprising industry stakeholders.”

“This committee will work with GB Potatoes to ensure that all growers benefit from the residual levy funds.”

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