Update: Roberts receives support in levy row

The British Meat Processors Associations (BMPA) has backed Stuart Roberts' reasons for resigning from his post at AHDB Beef & Lamb.

Stephen Rossides, director of the BMPA said: It is concerning that a planned beef and lamb promotional campaign, approved by the AHDB Beef & Lamb Board, has been blocked by the Government at a time when British sheep producers in particular face difficult market conditions.

The industry as a whole must send out a clear united message that levy payers, not the Government of the day, should decide how levies are used.

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Stephen Rossides, director of BMPA said: "It is concerning that a planned beef and lamb promotional campaign, approved by the AHDB Beef & Lamb Board, has been blocked by the government at a time when British sheep producers in particular face difficult market conditions.

"The industry as a whole must send out a clear united message that levy payers, not the government of the day, should decide how levies are used."

The resignation of Roberts has led to questions over the level of financial support being offered to the meat industry by the government.

Roberts, who had been appointed to the role in March of this year, resigned because he felt it should be the industry, through their AHDB sector boards, that are responsible for determining how levies are used.

Speaking exclusively to Meat Trades Journal, Roberts said After the General Election I have seen an increasing desire by government to exert more influence than I believe was in place previously over the way in which AHDB levy payers money should be spent. This issue has, I believe, been getting progressively worse recently with government trying to exert its will over previously agreed levy-funded activity. It is levy payers, the processors and farmers, who should determine such things and I resigned because I felt the governments actions were making it extremely difficult to support their interests.

Andy Foot, chairman of the South West National Farmers Union (NFU) livestock board and AHDB Beef & Lamb board member said it was a disgraceful situation and attributed Roberts decision to a delay in signing off a marketing campaign.

The government procrastinated over signing off on a campaign that had remained unchanged from previous years for so long that the TV slots and support from retailers were lost, rendering the campaign useless.

Foot expressed concern that this government intervention could be just the beginning. I am fearful that this is a fundamental shift of the goalposts. If it is, we need to know about it and are they able to do it under the current statutory instrument? I dont want AHDB to be a de facto arm of Defra."

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