Scottish meat bodies urge government for greater export support

Scottish meat industry leaders are calling on the UK government to increase financial support in light of new export opportunities.

The call for more financial commitment was made during a visit by Owen Paterson, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to Edinburgh. During the visit, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chief executive Uel Morton asked Paterson to increase the UKís financial commitment to the work carried out by the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP).

Morton said: "We believe the UK is the only country which asks its industry to pay for the delivery of what is, in effect, diplomatic work. Export certification work, while admittedly technical in nature, is important, especially at a time when the economy is flat and there is a real need to develop export opportunities."

He explained that good work was being carried out to open and further develop markets on the Continent.

At a round-table discussion, Morton also urged the government for stronger support from Defra for the EUís protected geographical indication (PGI) mark. "Scotland has a major role to play, in our view, in developing the premium export market, including countries such as Japan and China, which have a strong appetite for quality brands, and the PGI designation is the EUís premier food quality mark. We are keen to ensure that trade negotiations by Defra take this into consideration," he said.

He also explained there was a crucial need for an adequate supply of livestock in Scotland in order to capitalise on any future opportunities for quality meat overseas.