The publication of the govern­ment's verdict on the future of the levy boards has been put back again, fuelling speculation that new farming and food ­minister Lord Rooker is to tear up a decision made by his predecessor, Lord Bach, and come to his own conclusion.

Lord Bach had been poised to announce his decision following a consultation on economist Rosemary Radcliffe's report on the future of the bodies.

However, he was replaced last month in Prime Minister Tony Blair's wide-ranging reshuffle by Lord Rooker, who indicated he wanted to examine the responses to the consultation personally before announcing his verdict. Defra said at the time that he was expected to do this in the first week of June, but a spokeswoman for the department said this week it was now likely to be at the end of this month.

Between now and then, Lord Rooker would meet with all levy board chairmen to reveal his intentions, she added.