Ministers have ordered an independent review into the efficacy of farming and food levy bodies such as the British Potato Council and Milk Development Council.
The review - which will also cover the Meat and Livestock Commission, Home Grown Cereals Authority and Horticultural Development Council - follows a recent thinktank study into UK quangos which singled out the MDC and the BPC as being among the “nine most useless in the country”, a charge vehemently refuted by the two (The Grocer, February 19, p16).
The new review will look at all the relevant bodies’ roles, responsibilities and funding and has been ordered by the UK and devolved administration agriculture ministers.
It will be carried out by Rosemary Radcliffe, former chief economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers and until recently independent complaints commissioner for the Financial Services Authority. She will start work on April 4 and report by October.
Although levy boards have traditionally been charged with promoting a sector’s produce, funding research and developing and collecting market information, their funding by compulsory levies has been contentious.
Food and farming minister Larry Whitty said the review should “take account of the evolution of our agriculture, horticulture and food industries and their needs for sustainable and diverse development”.
Levy payers, business, organisations and consumers can all contribute to the review.
Peter Kendall, deputy president of the NFU, said: “Farmers face the challenge of developing their businesses in response to changes in CAP and the levy bodies representing various sectors need to be well placed to facilitate that.”