Scotland misses £1.5m of levy per year

Chief executive of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) ‘Uel Morton confirmed that the Scottish industry misses out on around £1.5m of pig and sheep meat levy per year, due to animals being born and raised in Scotland but slaughtered south of the border.

Morton said: "Rebalancing this inequity requires agreement between ministers in Westminster and the devolved governments and it is important they have a clear understanding of the impact on our industry of this continued inequitable distribution of levy funds."

The secretary of state for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, visited a Perthshire hill farming couple on Tuesday (19 February) to get a better insight into the Scottish sheep industry and the challenges it faces.

Morton emphasised the importance of recovering Scotland’s lost levy, claiming: "The figures speak for themselves. Scotland is home to 22% of the total GB sheep population but has only an 11% share of sheep levy income."

During the secretary of state’s visit, Morton was joined by Jim McLaren, chairman for QMS, NFU Scotland vice-president Allan Bowie and National Sheep Association development officer George Milne.

Milne stated: The Scottish sheep industry is enduring a tough time as a result of a combination of factors – from currency exchange rates to the impact of extreme weather conditions – which are outwith producers’ control.

"It is imperative that progress is made on this inequity to allow the industry to benefit from this levy, which could make a substantial difference to the activity QMS undertakes to improve the efficiency of Scottish sheep farmers and promote the Scotch Lamb brand."

Bowie commented: "The whole meat industry is under unparalleled scrutiny, but Scotland’s livestock sector is in great shape to deliver what consumers want.

"Backed by well-funded marketing of the beef, lamb and pork brands, Scottish farmers can show customers both at home and overseas the quality of product they have to offer, the care they take of their stock, and the short chains available to put that produce on their plate. There is an opportunity to build our marketing effort but without a reasonable deal on levy repatriation, our scope to drive our red meat sector forward will be limited."