Cross-border levy row rumbles on as Scots miss out

QMS chief 'Uel Morton hailed 'some welcome progress' in talks with other red meat organisations. Picture: Ian Jacobs
QMS chief 'Uel Morton hailed 'some welcome progress' in talks with other red meat organisations. Picture: Ian Jacobs
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One of the longest running sagas in Scottish agriculture continues with no resolution to the vexed issue of levies on livestock raised in Scotland but slaughtered in England or Wales.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the country’s red meat promotion body, loses in excess of £1 million annually through the agreement where the levies collected south of the Border are used by the English and Welsh promotional organisations. This has now been a running sore for almost a decade.

Yesterday, QMS chief executive ‘Uel Morton reported “some welcome progress” at the end of last year in discussions with the other GB red meat levy organisations.

“Significantly, there is agreement amongst the GB red meat levy organisations that the present system of levy distribution is unfair and an alternative method should be adopted,” he said.

“However, we have to recognise the legal framework we are in and the solution requires an amendment to legislation in England, Wales and Scotland. This proposal is currently with ministers in Westminster, Cardiff and Holyrood and we look forward to progress in the coming months.”

READ MORE: Jim McLaren forecasts better times for livestock sector

Despite the seepage of cash, Morton reported that levy income for the financial year ending 31 March 2015 amounted to £3.97m, which was down by £123,000 on the previous year.

In the coming year, QMS plan to spend £5.26m – a slight increase on the previous 12 months.

Morton pointed out that more than two thirds of the expenditure was allocated to marketing and consumer focussed activities in promoting Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands.