Scottish beef

Scotland has called for an overhaul of the red meat levy system

The Scottish first minister has called on the UK government to overhaul the red meat levy system, which he says costs Scottish livestock farmers £1.4m a year in lost cash.

Alex Salmond wrote to David Cameron today appealing for changes to the levy, claiming that Scottish producers lose out because money intended to promote their product goes to government bodies in England and Wales rather than to the equivalent organisation in Scotland.

“Giving our industry the money that is rightfully owed to them would help the sector continue to grow”

Alex Salmond

“Changing the current red meat levy system is plain common sense. Figures show that Scotland’s farming industry has now made a full real-term recovery following the devastating BSE outbreak over two decades ago. Giving our industry the money that is rightfully owed to them would help the sector continue to grow, and I have today written to the prime minister to ask him to act now to do the right thing for Scots livestock producers,” the first minister said.

The red meat levy is a fee per head of cattle paid to government bodies to promote the meat industry. The money is currently allocated according to where the animal is slaughtered, rather than where it is raised. With many Scottish lambs and pigs going to English and Welsh abattoirs, the Scottish government says this results in a loss of £1.4m a year for Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the body charged with boosting the meat sector’s contribution to the Scottish economy.

Today, QMS backed Alex Salmond’s call to overhaul the system. “Quality Meat Scotland continues to support the Scottish government’s commitment to deliver a positive result on Scotland’s lost levy,” said QMS chairman Jim McLaren.

BPEX, which promotes the pig industry in England, and EBLEX, which represents the English beef and sheep industry, responded by pointing out its work benefitted all of the UK. “While BPEX and EBLEX have an England-only remit, much of the work carried out, under the Red Tractor banner, brings considerable benefits to the wider British industry, estimated to be worth in the region of £7m per annum.”