Seed Potato Organisation
Following the vote which led to the demise of AHDB Potatoes, a number of meetings were held in Scotland to discuss the merits of a successor body. It was clear from these meetings that seed growers were most interested in such a body that specifically represented their sector of the potato industry, which might be under-represented by a new over-arching national body. Seed potato growers have specific issues which could only be met by a seed-orientated organisation which would support the development of the seed potato sector.
To establish an independent organisation set up as a co-op, run by seed growers for the benefit of members. Full membership with voting rights will be open to all registered seed growers and seed growing merchanting companies. The aim is to establish a lean organisation with a focus on activities relevant to the seed industry delivering value for money.
1. To represent the views of seed potato growers
2. To fund research, innovation and technical services that benefit the seed potato sector
3. To support the development of markets for seed potatoes
4 To ensure the economic and environmental sustainability of the seed potato sector
No, full membership will only be open to seed potato growers. But associate membership is available to ware growers and potato trade companies.
Seed growers will be approached to join the Seed Potato Organisation (SPO) and invited to join as full members with growers being welcome to join SPO from all regions of the UK. These members will be eligible to serve on the board and have a direct influence over the direction the organisation takes. The larger the membership the louder voice we will have.
Ware growers are also welcome to join along with Potato trade companies will also be welcome as ‘Associate Members’. Associate members will benefit from the activities of the organisation and have access to any information generated.
For ware potato growers, Associate membership costs will be based on the area grown. For potato trade companies, membership fees will be based on the turnover of the business.
The basis of control in a co-op is democratic through one member one vote, irrespective of size of business. The principal governing control is equality. Co-ops are based on the values of self-help, honesty, democracy and solidarity. Co-op law and the co-op’s constitution (called ‘Rules’) are strong and provide individual members with considerable rights protected by law. It is the members that own SPO and say how it is to be managed.
The co-op will be governed by a Board of Directors, whose main purpose is to ensure SPO members’ future prosperity and success by collectively directing its affairs. Directors are elected and appointed by the members to represent their interest and ensure the successful guardianship of the organisation. The elected Board will report back to all members with the progress of the organisation, its performance, issues and actions.
Each member will initially purchase £1,000 of redeemable shares, which will be used as capital to establish the organisation. Thereafter, members will pay an annual fee based on the area of seed grown. In year 1 (2023), the annual fee will be £29 /ha, which is less than £1 /t at current prices.
Further income, financial support and leverage of further funding would be sought from a range of sources such as government, commercial companies and industry-related bodies.
A budget of no more than 15% of income would be allocated to manage and operate the organisation. One or more part-time posts would be responsible for creating contracts, monitoring project delivery, representing growers’ views, arranging collection of fees and other functions. However, Dr Phil Burgess, who has a bridging role between key Scottish Institutes (SRUC & JHI) and heads ScottishPotatoes.org, will support the operational development of SPO, including the provision of guidance and technical advice. He will advise the board on the cost and feasibility of projects to be funded.
SPO is now an established co-operative and is ready to welcome members. Please get in touch with a board member to learn more about the organisation or email email@example.com.
The extent of benefits to members depends on the level of income from membership subscriptions and other sources, but it is anticipated that activities would be funded within each of the four objectives:
1. Representing the views of seed potato growers
· SPO would be an ideal representational body to discuss certification matters with certification bodies (SASA and APHA) and to link with governments on national issues
· SPO would position itself to influence the direction of Government funded research to benefit the seed sector
· Where public issues relating to seed potato production arise, SPO would be a natural go-to organisation for opinions. SPO would work with other representative bodies such as PB Growers Association, BPTA etc
· If appropriate, SPO could integrate with other potato representative groups to ensure a strong voice for the seed potato sector
2. Funding research, innovation and technical services that benefit the seed potato sector
· Services such as re-establishing an aphid monitoring scheme part-funded through SPO
· Applied research of immediate benefit and directed by seed growers. Examples might include evaluation of control measures of common and powdery scab, evaluation of methods for optimising progeny tuber numbers, maintaining high virus health during seed multiplication and evaluating novel approaches to haulm destruction that restrict disease development.
· Pro-active innovation to sector specific issues. Examples include new EAMU applications and renewal of existing EAMU applications such as fluazinam for powdery scab control
· Research, innovation and technical services would be out-sourced to providers best placed to deliver for the sector
· Data and information developed through SPO projects would be owned by the membership and confidential to them
3. Supporting the development of markets for seed potatoes
· SPO would support inward missions from countries considering the import of Scottish seed potatoes
· Support for the development of new and existing export markets
4. Ensuring the economic and environmental sustainability of the seed potato sector
· Proactively prepare seed growers with agronomic and Integrated Pest Management tools which deliver sustainable production practices
· Support for benchmarking costs of production and meeting environmental challenges, including carbon foot-printing
SPO is not another AHDB potatoes. Membership will be by voluntary subscription rather than a mandated levy. Consequently, the new organisation is expected to deliver greater value for money and directly meet the needs of the seed potato sector and its growers. To be fully effective, a high level of sign-up will be required to enable SPO to achieve its objectives.
Who can I contact with my other questions?
If you have other questions, you are welcome to contact any of the Board members