Alex Salmond enters row over levies

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Yesterday First Minister Alex Salmond entered one of the longest-running disputes in Scottish agriculture when he announced he had written to Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to change the system which sees livestock levies retained in the country in which the animals are slaughtered.

A large percentage of Scottish-­bred livestock ends up in English and Welsh abattoirs.

Quality Meat Scotland – the Scottish red meat promotional body – is losing about £1.4 million annually as a result.

This money is used by the English and Welsh bodies, Eblex and Hybu Cig Cymru respectively, to promote meat sales in their home markets.

While it is encouraging to see this issue being taken to the top levels of government, it would have surely been much better for the Scottish Government to agree to the deal worked out earlier this year whereby QMS could promote Scottish meat in England from a ring-fenced fund of levies collected by English counterparts on Scottish livestock.

I understand that such a deal was all but agreed at that time, with Holyrood objecting.