AHDB could lose £2.5m to Wales and Scotland under new levy structure

A new option for the distribution of red meat levy income has been proposed jointly by the red meat levy boards in England, Scotland and Wales, and submitted as a briefing document to government ministers in the three countries.

The key proposal is for level distribution to be based on the scale of economic activity undertaken by the red meat industry in each country, rather than only where the animal is slaughtered. The new plan isn’t expected to apply until April 2017, but when it does, between £2m and £2.5m of current English-based levy income could be redirected to Wales and Scotland.

AHDB, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) have been in talks for some time considering how changes could be made to the current system. At present, levy is collected at point of slaughter regardless of where animals spend their lives and where value is added to beef cattle, sheep and pigs.

Under the potential new system, animals that have spent part of their lives in different countries would have the levy apportioned across those different countries.

The levy boards have also agreed to look at new ways of working in partnership on activity where there is mutual benefit, such as supporting export market access work in countries where there is potential to sell pigmeat, sheepmeat and beef from across Britain.

AHDB analysts have estimated the levy that could potentially be transferred from AHDB could be in the region of £2 million to £2.5 million, with that being divided roughly equally between Wales and Scotland.

For pigmeat levies, 2015 figures indicate that while 96% of pig slaughterings occur in England, only 91% of breeding pigs are based there.

Currently, in relation to Scotland, the estimated redistribution total includes approximately £200,000 to £250,000 in pig levy. However, once the planned additional pig abattoir capacity in Scotland is fully operational, it is possible over 100,000 extra pigs may be processed in Scotland annually, which would reduce the amount of pig levy to be transferred to Scotland.

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