Looking for Experienced Support for your PO
Keith Leddington-Hill has been leading the advisory services to Producer Organisations since 1996. He is currently employed as a Non-Executive Chairman of a leading soft fruit PO.
Ian Thompson has been working with POs in Scotland for the past 10 years and has been instrumental in supporting clients through recognition (scheme compliance) issues, which has been of enormous benefit to the industry.
Keith is the only person in the industry who has been involved with the scheme since the outset. The scheme is complicated and POs and their members require detailed knowledge from someone who fully understands and is immersed in the sector. He has worked with over 80% of POs in the UK and provided advice to EU POs.
Keith and Ian are both involved in the management of POs.
Keith specifically has taken on roles as Chairman and Company Secretary and worked on the industry Experts Group with DEFRA, RPA, NFU and representative POs.
It is important that POs operate with the appropriate corporate governance to meet legal requirements to retain their status. Both Keith and Ian have worked closely with specialist solicitors and accountants to ensure the appropriate structures are set up and operated under the Memorandum of Association and membership rules.
Laurence Gould assists PO’s in sourcing staff with the correct skills to take on key roles in these organisations. Laurence Gould also provides administrative services to PO’s where required.
Keith and Ian both assist PO’s in benchmarking their performance which is also a requirement for the scheme.
Keith has advised individual members looking to join POs and in assisting members who have become dissatisfied with their existing organisation move to another collaborative operation.
Explanation of POs
Producer Organisations (POs) are groups of growers who collaborate to improve the marketing of grower's produce in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable sector. The benefit to growers from forming these collaborative groups is for them to place themselves in a stronger position. This enables them to manage the production, storage, grading, packing and marketing of their produce to the retail, food service, wholesale and processing sectors more effectively.
POs are able to source grant aid under the Fruit and Vegetable Regime. This scheme has operated since 1st July 1997. PO's are able to source grant aid of 50% on expenditure each year up to a maximum of 4.1% of eligible turnover. Effectively a grant up to 20.5% of eligible turnover over a five year period is available. Whilst there are many benefits the scheme is bureaucratic and care is needed to ensure that a PO operates in the correct way. The RPA manage the scheme in the UK, which is operated under EU regulations.
Collaboration is a key government objective for the future of the industry and in the right situation we are finding farmers and growers want to work together for the collective betterment. The scheme now has a strong environmental bias that POs need to meet in addition to improving the collaborative services and facilities for members.