AHDB escapes government quango axe

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has escaped the chop following the government‘s axing of 192 public bodies.

However, it may not escape totally unscathed, as the Cabinet Office table lists the body as “under consideration”. This could relate to the fact that its status as a public sector organisation may be altered, following the discussion on the future role of Defra.

In total, Cabinet Office Minister Frances Maude announced the scrapping of 192 public bodies, with 181 further bodies merged and another 171 “substantially” reformed. Following the announcement, Defra issued a statement, saying: “The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board will be retained and discussions with industry about its future will be initiated, including looking at non-public sector options.”

Commenting on the situation, AHDB head of communications Guy Attenborough said: “We welcome the news that AHDB will be retained. It underlines the pivotal role we perform in helping to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of our levy payer businesses.

“We are funded by farmers and growers rather than the State, so there was never any potential cost-saving to the Exchequer.”

And he welcomed the move towards discussion with the industry, adding: “The decision to initiate a debate within the industry about the future form and functions of AHDB including possible non-public sector options is a very exciting opportunity which could unfetter us from some Government controls.”

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