The Scottish red meat industry had an opportunity to express their opinions and concerns relating to the UK Government’s Agriculture Bill yesterday (25 October 2018), during a House of Commons Public Bill Committee meeting scrutinising the draft legislation.
Quality Meat Scotland’s Chief Executive, Alan Clarke, was invited to discuss a range of topics which included a future UK geographical indications scheme, levy redistribution, and WTO agreements covering Scottish farm support schemes.
During the meeting, Mr Clarke emphasized the need to make progress on each of these issues and called for the Committee to ensure a long-term solution to the problem of lost levy is included in its amendments to the Bill.
“The Scottish industry continues to miss out on around £2 million levy per year from animals born and reared in Scotland but slaughtered south of the border, with Scottish producer levy of around £1.5m per year being trapped in England,” said Mr Clarke.
“Although the interim solution, whereby £2m of red meat levies has been ring-fenced for collaborative projects across Scotland, England and Wales, is working well, this does not reflect the amount of money the Scottish industry is losing south of the border.
“In fact, the £667k share Scotland benefits from is only 34% of the total levy lost on average, per year, over the past five years, and 44% of the lost producer levy over this period.
“It is therefore imperative that progress is made on this inequity to allow the industry to benefit from this levy.
“This would make a substantial difference to the activity QMS undertakes to promote and protect the Scottish red meat industry and further market the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands.”
Mr Clarke also stressed to the Committee that a seamless mutual recognition of Geographical Indication schemes between other countries, without the need to re-apply, is essential.
“There is a risk that the EU could require UK GIs, including Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb, to reapply for protection in the EU post-Brexit if there is no deal and this process could prove lengthy.
“A further issue for PGI is that the change of logo post-Brexit will require a change of label and retail pack design. This will add cost to the processing and retailing sector, potentially causing confusion amongst consumers.”
Other witnesses who gave oral evidence at to the Committee along with Mr Clarke included Jonnie Hall, Director of Policy, NFU Scotland; Ivor Ferguson, President, and Wesley Aston, CEO, Ulster Farmers’ Union; George Burgess, Deputy Director, Trade Policy, Food and Drink at the Scottish Government.