SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod has this week said Scotland’s flagship red meat industry is losing out to the tune of £1.4 million a year because of lost levy income.
The UK Government has continually refused to act to stop levy income paid by Scots livestock producers being spent in England due to a flaw in the current arrangements.
The red meat levy is currently allocated to the promotional bodies on the basis of where an animal is slaughtered, not where it is raised. With so many Scottish lambs and pigs now going to English abattoirs, this results in £1.4 million in lost levy annually for Quality Meat Scotland.
Dr McLeod said: “The Scottish Government has been calling for this vital levy income to be repatriated for some time now as has the Scottish industry. Yet successive UK Government Ministers have refused to find a solution to this problem simply because they gain and Scotland loses from the status quo.
“The UK Government professes to act for the interest of all parts of the UK but this another example where that simply isn’t the case. Any reasonable person would accept that the current arrangements disadvantage Scotland.
“It is preposterous that the levy paid on animals born and reared north of the border goes towards promoting produce from other countries simply because of where it is collected at the point of slaughter.
“Scotland deserves the right to spend all the levy income it contributes to the benefit of the Scottish industry. With extra levy revenue at its disposal, Quality Meat Scotland would be able to do even more to maximise the value of the Scotch brand especially in untapped markets.
“The food and drink industry is important to Scotland, and particularly important to Dumfries & Galloway, where livestock rearing is such an important part of our farming sector. The money the industry in Scotland pays in this levy should be funding the promotion of Scottish produce. Any other arrangement is totally unfair.
“I will therefore be writing to the UK Minister for Agriculture and Food, David Heath, to call on him to look at this unfair situation again and take steps to put it right.”