British potato growers are being called on to support new body GB Potatoes which will represent the industry now that AHDB has stopped its work for the sector.

Despite a level of apathy and a 'legacy of fatigue after the AHDB debacle' the idea is now moving forward, according to Archie Gibson, executive director of Agrico UK and GB Potatoes working group member.

“Progress is being made,we have registered GB Potatoes and set up a bank account and website” said Mr Gibson. “Before harvest we hope to send forms out to growers and follow up with invoices to attract subscription income. It will all be done on the honesty of those in the industry to declare how many hectares they are growing or volume of potatoes they are purchasing.”

The payment rate for GB Potatoes will be set at £10 per hectare for growers, which is 75% less than AHDB’s previous levy rate of £42/hectare. Further, the body will be entirely voluntary so growers have no obligation to take part, which is a change from the historic compulsory levy at AHDB.

There will also be a fee of 10p per ton of potatoes for first purchasers. It is hoped this will bring processors and potato merchants into GB Potatoes to strengthen the group’s voice.

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“We recognise we need to be able to get to the point where we have viable finances for two years of operation,” explained the former chairman of the Food & Drink Federation of Scotland. “If we can generate £475,000 then we have a viable model. This would require around 33% of the industry to sign up.

"Then we can hire a chief executive, formally form a board and can get on with representing the membership. We will be running GB Potatoes very lean with one CEO and one supporting member of staff. It was extremely clear from everyone we consulted with that we can not set up what went before.”