AHDB Comes Into Force

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) comes into force today, marking the end of 41 years of the Meat & Livestock Commission.

The new levy organisation will oversee six wholly-owned operating companies, which will carry out the work in various sectors, including EBLEX and BPEX in the meat sector.

The AHDB will be based in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire and there are plans to centralise all levy services into a new building at the site in the next two years.

Kevin Roberts, chief executive of AHDB, said: "Today is an important day for AHDB, representing a milestone in the Levy Board Review process. All the constitutional changes come into force today and all staff have transferred to the new organisation.

"Looking forward, today marks the start of the organisational change process which will conclude with a co-located business at Stoneleigh, working more closely together and delivering better value-for-money for levy payers."

For meat levy payers, very little is expected to change in the immediate future. EBLEX and BPEX will continue to deal directly with the industry, while the AHDB will carry out back-office administration and market intelligence.

Stewart Houston, BPEX Ltd chairman, said: "From the levy-payers' viewpoint, the transition from BPEX to BPEX Ltd should be seamless. The aim is to make BPEX even more focused on the levy-payer and our priority is the feed cost issue, plus the price producers are paid. In the interim, it is vital to keep staff informed and enthusiastic in their delivery to the industry."

John Cross, shadow board chairman of EBLEX Ltd, said: "It will be very much business as usual for EBLEX Ltd, which will continue to deliver activities under the Quality Standard Scheme and Better Returns Programme.

"Our business plan is structured around three key areas: promoting better returns for the sector, championing the development of a sustainable industry and stimulating a profitable demand for quality beef and lamb.

"By taking part in our activities, all levy payers can start to build the foundations for a better business - which in turn can help them address the challenges ahead."