Failure to maintain coupled payments in the new Common Agricultural Policy will result in permanent damage across the meat supply chain, warns the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

Speaking at the Royal Highland Show yesterday (Thursday 20 June), the association’s president, Alan McNaughton, attacked the UK government’s attitude to coupled payments and said without them, UK producers would be left at a severe disadvantage to their major competitors.

“Processors will be left to choose between domestic and export business, as there won’t be sufficient stock available to satisfy both sectors, and retailers will be left with a pricing choice which can only go one way – upwards,” he said.

“Ministers Paterson and Heath are negotiating the UK meat industry’s exit from the global business, shutting the doors on export growth and development and turning out the lights on businesses which have won admirers across the world but have insufficient supplies to satisfy sales demands.”

Coupled payments were vital to maintaining stock numbers, he said.

The Scottish government and Westminster are at loggerheads on coupled payments, with Scottish farm minister Richard Lochhead repeatedly calling on member states to allow 15% of the budget to be paid as coupled payments, as opposed to the current 7% allocation.

In February, DEFRA farm minister David Heath said “unused” coupled payments would continue to go north of the border. However, secretary of state Owen Paterson has argued that coupled payments are a thing of the past and he would like to see them discontinued.

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