An interim solution to the long-running spat over lost red meat levies from Scottish-born animals being slaughtered south of the border has been agreed.
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and its counterparts in England and Wales – the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – yesterday announced plans for a £2million programme of joint activity.
The ring-fenced fund will be used to support a programme of activities benefitting cattle, sheep and pig levy payers in Scotland, England and Wales.
It is designed to be an interim arrangement while a long-term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at the point of slaughter in England for animals which were born and reared in Scotland and Wales.
“It is encouraging that progress has been made and that recognition has been given to the movement of livestock around GB and the impact this has on each of the levy bodies,” said QMS chief executive Alan Clarke.
“The priority now is to ensure we maximise the benefit to levy payers of the activities delivered from the ring-fenced fund. This collaboration gives us the opportunity to take a joined-up approach to issues that affect the industry, regardless of geography.”
AHDB chief executive Jane King said the three GB levy bodies could address industry challenges more effectively by working together.
She said: “Though we already work closely with our colleagues in HCC and QMS on various projects, this new arrangement will take our collaboration to a whole new level with all three organisations deciding jointly how we will invest this fund to make the biggest impact for the red meat sectors.”
HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells said: “While a permanent solution will require legislation, this interim arrangement will allow greater value for money and accountability.”
During the 2018/19 financial year, the fund will be used to focus on five priority areas.
These are: international shows and export events; market access; Brexit preparation; meat and health, animal health and environment; and research.
In particular, funding will be used to boost the international presence and access for meat from Britain in key overseas markets, and research will be undertaken to find ways to deliver positive messaging about red meat and “counteract negative messages”.