Secretary of state for agriculture, Liz Truss, has been challenged to deliver “urgent clarity” on whether or not the UK Government will go ahead with the devolution of food levies.
The challenge comes from Scotland’s farm and food minister, Richard Lochhead, who has repeatedly complained about levy income which is raised on “Scottish produce” ending in a “UK-run system”.
Quality Meat Scotland has also complained about losing out on valuable promotion cash due to the fact that levy income from livestock reared in Scotland, but slaughtered in England, has stayed south of the border. QMS says this has cost its production and processing members, including those in the pig sector, at least £1m in lost levy income.
“I want to see the raising and investment of food levies helping to promote locally sourced produce and supporting our fishermen, farmers and others who work hard to produce our world-renowned food,” said Mr Lochhead (pictured above), adding that he’d been concerned for some time that the current UK-run system doesn’t always work in the best interests of the Scottish industry.
Today’s reigniting of the levy debate followed the realisation that the National Fish & Chip Awards, organised by the Seafish Industry Authority, will (according to Mr Lochhead) be “used to promote frozen Norwegian white fish on the UK market”.
Commenting that this would leave the Scottish industry “bewildered and frustrated”, he added: “This shows why we need the UK government to commit to devolving powers over food levies to the Scottish Government as a matter of urgency and I look forward to working with the secretary of state to try to make this happen.”