The axe has fallen on the Meat and Livestock Commission, following the delivery of the government's verdict on the levy board system this week.

But reform has been put back until April 2008 to give time for the crucial details to be thrashed out in what some fear could amount to another lengthy review.

There were few surprises in the decision from food and farming minister Lord Rooker, which stuck fairly closely to the recommendations outlined in the independent Radcliffe report.

He announced the creation of a single super-board sitting over six subsidiary companies focused on each sector: pigmeat, beef and lamb, potatoes, horticulture, dairy and cereals. Quality Meat Scotland and Wales' Hybu Cig Cymru survived.

But MLC director-general Kevin Roberts said he was saddened at the demise of his board and called for the UK Levy Board to be based at its offices in Milton Keynes.

There was also relief at assurances that the levy raised for each sector would remain in that sector.

Lord Rooker said: "We have retained the levy because there was overwhelming support for this from farmers and growers during consultation.

"But changes are still needed to the current structures in order to help the industry to meet future business challenges."

Those changes - the meat of the reform - have yet to be tackled and will be drawn up under a 'Fresh Start' programme by the chairman-to-be of the board. Taking a cue from stakeholders, the chairman will have to improve value for money, which could see levy rates changed.

One insider said the success of the reform depended on engagement with the process. "We could have wished for a bit more detail at this stage; and Fresh Start looks like another review."

The NFU welcomed what it said was a radical step. President Peter Kendall said: "The new framework should allow us to address the issues in the agiculture and horticulture sectors."