Scene & herd

Rosemary Radcliffe delivered her report on the review of the levy boards at the end of 2005 and the decision to bring together the various bodies has been well publicised.

The review was timely. Low margins and business confidence along the supply chain has led to commercial pressure and it is appropriate there is a reassessment of the strategy and activity of the levy boards. Two principles shaped our response to the review. Firstly, voluntary co-operation and collaboration, both within sectors of the supply chain and along it, is preferable to legislative intervention. Secondly, any future arrangement should be focussed on the challenges we face over the next decade. The BMPA is supportive of the need for a levy-funded organisation serving the industry's needs. We see those needs falling into three areas: livestock and meat technical matters, consumer health and nutrition and economics.

The case for brand marketing needs careful consideration with many people questioning the value for money of some of the current activity. The levy bodies should not shy away from the debate. It will require a thorough and transparent examination of both industry needs and the most effective strategy to address them.

What Radcliffe called a "Fresh Start" is a tremendous opportunity. Not only will it be essential to ensure value for money but the process itself will build the confidence of the businesses that pay the levy. Everyone with an interest should give this review the time and input it will require. When we look back in a few years, it will be by the quality of the "Fresh Start" process that our industry will judge the success of the Defra levy board review.