Unpicking the UK’s food levies to accommodate the Scottish Government’s pressure for fully devolved control over all money raised on farm produce from Scotland was described as a “difficult” issue by UK Minister of State, George Eustice, speaking at Cereals 2015.
“We are committed to discussions on this under the terms of the Smith Commission but it could be quite difficult to unwind some of these levies,” said the Minister.
“There has been discussion around the red meat levy for some time, of course, because a proportion of Scottish livestock travels south of the border to be slaughtered. With the abattoirs in that case being based in England rather than in Scotland, unpicking that as a levy collection process will not be easy.”
England & Wales NFU president, Meurig Raymond, who was part of the same Cereals debate, then weighed in with the view that allowing England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to go their own way on devolved food levies could end up actually “devaluing” the products at the core of the debate.
“We need to be less parochial on this,” he said, adding that the challenge should be to get British meat into new export markets rather than for the individual countries to keep competing for business.
Headline image shows George Eustice (right) addressing the Cereals debate. Also pictured are HSBC’s head of agriculture, Allan Wilkinson, (centre) and Meurig Raymond.