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The Scottish red meat industry had an opportunity to express their opinions and concerns relating to the UK Government’s Agriculture Bill yesterday (13 February 2020), during an Agriculture Public Bill Committee oral evidence session.

Ahead of undertaking a detailed line by line examination of the Bill (starting on the 25 February), the members of the Public Bill Committee asked Quality Meat Scotland’s Chief Executive, Alan Clarke, to discuss a range of topics which included levy redistribution and safeguarding Scottish farming standards in future trade deals.

During the meeting, Mr Clarke emphasized the need to make progress on each of these issues and called for the Committee to set a date for a long-term solution to the problem of lost levy.

Mr Clarke added that the three levy boards, QMS, AHDB and HCC, are currently working towards the date of 1 April 2021.

“The Scottish red meat industry continues to miss out on around £1.2m of Scottish producer levy per year which is 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, has been working well, this does not reflect the amount of money the Scottish industry is losing south of the border.

“Levy repatriation 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 the effect of allowing imports which are produced to lower welfare and sustainability standards would have a disastrous effect on the Scottish red meat industry.

“The Scots were pioneers of whole-of-life, whole-of-supply chain quality assurance and that gives a unique selling point to our products of Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork,” said Mr Clarke.

“Our brands are underpinned by world-class production methods, animal welfare, traceability and sustainability standards, so it is essential that sub-standard imported beef, lamb and pork, which would be illegal to produce here, are not allowed to have a place on our supermarket shelves.”

Other witnesses who gave oral evidence at to the Committee along with Mr Clarke included Jonnie Hall, Director of Policy, NFU Scotland; and George Burgess, Deputy Director, Trade Policy, Food and Drink at the Scottish Government.