Over a year since horticulture and potato growers voted to abolish AHDB and the industry is just coming to terms with what life without a levy body looks like. As predicted the crop associations have come forward to play key roles in particular with the establishment of Horticultural Crop Protection (HCP) the new company established to take over the job of applying for minor use Pesticide approvals including non-pesticide biological controls.
While there are already some signs that not all growers are happy with proposals to transfer surplus funds from AHDB to HCP the importance of crop protection and the legislative processes that lie behind minor use pesticide approvals (EAMUs) means that any privately funded application is going to face issues, not least of which is the potentially large cost.
The establishment of HCP therefore seems logical and with the initial board comprising seven growers and one consultant from seven sectors growers cannot say they are not represented – particularly when it comes to field vegetables and salads. The new funding model which should see growers funding EMAU applications for their crops should also be fairer but will potentially place heavier burdens on those producers of the most niche and specialist crops.
While most horticultural crops (including field vegetables) already had pre-existing grower groups that wasn’t the case with potatoes. With the establishment of GB Potatoes (and the new Seed Potato Organisation), the sector is trying to correct this. Perhaps the biggest and most valid criticism of AHDB was that it didn’t listen to, or fully represent, growers.
In order to make sure that this is not the case with GB Potatoes it is important that potato growers get behind the new organisation. Any industry as diverse as horticulture or potato production is never going to agree all of the time, and with such tight margins competition between companies will always be keen. But the industry faces many technical and legislative challenges that can only be dealt with by coming together.
It would be deeply damaging for all growers if in a few years’ time GB Potatoes and Horticultural Crop Protection were to fail through a lack of industry support and engagement. It would result in a situation where only the largest and most profitable growers could afford to grow their crops and many of the smaller and medium sized business – those who voted to end the levy – could be forced out.
For many of the growers who voted to abolish AHDB the rationale was that growers could do better themselves. The time has come to do so.
The March issue also contains articles on
- Vegetable genetics
- AAB conference
- Organic confernece
- Elsoms open day
- Machinery focus: LAMMA review
- Blight threat
- Potato season review
To read these and more from “The Vegetable Farmer” subscribe today – find out more here.