If proposals for an increase in the cereals and oilseeds levy paid to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) are agreed, representatives from the organisation “will spend more time in NI”, Ken Boyns from AHDB has said.

Addressing last Thursday’s arable conference at Greenmount, Boyns said AHDB will undertake a number of initiatives, including enhancing the local monitor farm network (at present there is just one monitor farm in NI – Alistair Craig’s in Limavady). He also suggested the organisation will provide more market intelligence information, including local prices and re-establish AHDB in the research arena.

“We were spending £2.5m on research and development 10 years ago – that has fallen away. If the levy is approved, we will invest an awful lot more in research – that research will be driven by you and what you want us to do,” he said.

While AHDB is currently awaiting on government approval to increase all of its levies from the start of the 2024/2025 financial year, including in dairy, pork, beef and lamb, it is only in the cereals and oilseeds sector where this increase applies UK-wide, to include NI.

The proposed increase would see the cereals levy increase from 46p to 58p/t and the oilseeds levy go from 75p to 94p/t. Increases are also planned for levies paid by processors, although, around 83% of all money raised comes from growers.

Levy rates have been unchanged for 12 years, which according to AHDB effectively represents a 40% reduction in spending power over the period.

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