Scotland’s environment secretary, Richard Lochhead, has told his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, that levy money “previously taken from Scottish farmers” should be used to market Scottish livestock, instead of being used to “promote meat from elsewhere on these islands”.
Mr Lochhead’s blunt message follows a recent Quality Meat Scotland comment that it was currently losing more than £1m in levy income on Scottish stock which are slaughtered outwith Scotland.
“The current arrangements are disjointed and need to change to stop levies leaking south of the border,” said Mr Lochhead, adding that the money raised on Scottish produce should be going to promote Scotland’s “booming food and drink industry”.
The Scottish Government is pressing to take charge of all food levies related to Scotland, with Mr Lochhead highlighting “the need to up the pace of change particularly on the red meat levies” during his meeting with Ms Truss.
“Now that the Scotland Bill has been published, the debate about the range of additional powers the Scottish Government should receive has stepped up a gear,” he said. “What’s clear is that the proposals from the UK Government fall far short of what is required to promote the Scottish brand, to create jobs and boost our economy and I have made this point to Liz Truss in our meeting.
“One example in my own portfolio where I am keen to ensure we can do more is on food levies. Devolving food levies is a no brainer.”
Headline image shows Richard Lochhead (left) and QMS chairman, Jim McLaren, pictured at SIAL Paris, promoting Scotch meat.