Scotland’s farm minister, Fergus Ewing, has called for “urgent action” by the UK Government concerning the delivery of a fairer share of the red meat levy for Scotland.
The call is one of several points listed by Mr Ewing (pictured above) on which he believes the UK Government in general, and Defra in particular, needs to get moving.
He also voiced concerns that the UK Government is guilty of “neglecting the day job” in its focus on sorting out the results of the EU referendum, with the implementation of last year’s “fairer sharing” recommendations by the Red Meat Levy Forum qualifying as one of the key issues which is being overlooked.
According to the latest figures from Quality Meat Scotland, £1.5 million of levy income, collected on Scottish livestock which are slaughtered in England, is being lost each year by the Scottish industry. That’s a revenue loss which Mr Ewing said, on taking office in June this year, amounted to the short-changing of Scottish farmers, including pig producers.
“My number one priority is to protect the economic future of our rural economy and communities that are particularly vulnerable to the uncertainty caused by the result of the EU referendum,” said Mr Ewing, following on from dispatching a “series of letters to DEFRA and the Treasury”.
“I am concerned the UK Government is neglecting the day job and I am concerned about the impact this may have on the rural economy. There are a range of domestic farming and food related decisions that, since the EU referendum, are sitting with UK ministers, which if made, I believe, could provide much needed certainty and clarity to our rural communities.
“This ranges from our calls for the UK Government to extend their EU funding guarantee and passing on in full the convergence uplift to Scotland, to acting on the recommendations of the Red Meat Levy Forum report and the Fisheries Concordat.
“It is the Scottish Government that is providing certainty and building growth in Scotland’s rural economy in these uncertain times. I would urge the UK Government to do their bit and make these urgent decisions to protect those living in our rural communities.”
According to figures calculated by the UK’s levy boards:
- 66% of sheep slaughterings occur in England but only 47% of the breeding sheep are based there.
- 96% of pig slaughterings occur in England, but only 91% of breeding pigs are based there.
- Wales has 14% of the breeding cows, but only 7% of the cattle slaughterings.
- Scotland has 22% of the breeding sheep in Great Britain, but only 10% of the sheep slaughterings.